Skip to main content

Full text of "Northern mythology : comprising the principal popular traditions and superstitions of Scandinavia, North Germany, and The Netherlands"

See other formats



r> [ . 










VOL. I. 















The Grottasavngr, or Mill-Song 207 

The three solemn Pagan Festivals 208 

The Quicken-Tree, or Mountain-Ash 211 

Of Places of Worship 212 

Of Soothsaying and Sorcery 212 

Epitome of German Mythology 223 


NORTHERN literature, more particularly that branch of it 
which is connected with the early times and antiquities of 
Scandinavia and the north of Germany, having of late 
become an object of increasing interest in many parts of 
Europe, the idea seemed to me not unreasonable that a 
work, comprehensive yet not too voluminous, exhibiting 
the ancient mythology and principal mythologic traditions 
of those countries, might be found both useful and enter 
taining not only to the lover of Northern lore at home and 
to the English traveller over those interesting lands, but 
also to the English antiquary, on account of the intimate 
connection subsisting between the heathenism of the Ger 
manic nations of the Continent and those of his own Saxon 
forefathers, manifest traces of which are to be found in 
the works of our earliest chroniclers and poets. It was 
under this impression that the present work was under 

The first, or purely mythologic, part was originally in 
tended to consist of a mere translation of the Asalsere 
of Professor N. M. Petersen of Copenhagen ; but on corn- 


paring the several myths l as given in that work with the 
text of the two Eddas, it appearing that the conciseness 
observed by Prof. Petersen, and which he, no doubt, found 
necessary to his object 2 , not uiifrequently impaired the 
interest of the narrative, I resolved, while following the 
plan of the Asalsere/ to have recourse to the Eddas them 
selves, and exhibit the several fables or myths unabridged, 
in all their fullness, as they appear in those authorities. 

The interpretation of these myths, forming the second 
part of the first volume, is, with slight exceptions, from 
the work of Prof. Petersen, though considerably abridged, 
particularly as regards the etymological portion, which, if 

1 I use the term myth rather in the sense of legend or fable than in the 
signification now more usually attached to it, that of supposing each divi 
nity a personification of the powers of nature ; a theory which assumes a 
degree of mental culture to have existed among the early settlers in the 
North wholly incompatihle with all we know concerning them. As equally 
applicable here, I will venture to repeat ray own words used on a former 
similar occasion : " In these meagre traditions exist, I firmly believe, faint 
traces of persons that once had being and of actions that once took place ; 
but that they generally require a mythic interpretation, is to me more than 
questionable." (Lappenberg s England, i. p. 98.) 

Much more consistent with probability I consider the view taken by 
the Rev. A. Faye, but to which he does not seem to adhere (see Introduc 
tion to vol. ii. p. xii.), which is the converse of the theory before-men 
tioned, viz. " that unacquaintance with nature and her powers, combined 
with the innate desire of finding a reason for and explaining the various 
natural phenomena, that must daily and hourly attract the attention of 
mankind, has led them to seek the causes of these phenomena in the 
power of beings who, as they supposed, had produced them : 

Like the poor Indian, whose untutor d mind 

Sees God in clouds or hears him in the wind. 

" These phenomena were too numerous and various to allow the 

ascribing of them to a single being, and therefore a number of supernatural 
beings were imagined, whose dangerous influence and pernicious wrath 
it was sought to avert by sacrifices and other means." 

2 The * Asalsere forms a part only of the work Danmarks Historic i 
Hedenhold. 3 vols. small 8vo. 


given at length, could hardly have failed of being tedious 
to the majority of readers in this country, and the more 
so as much of it is necessarily based on conjecture ; an 
objection from which, I fear, that what is here given will be 
pronounced not wholly free. With this deduction, Prof. 
Petersen s illustrations, as contained in the Asalsere/ and 
in his more recent valuable work on the same subject 1 , 
have in general been adopted, as bearing, at least in my 
judgement, a nearer resemblance to probability than any 
others with which I am acquainted ; though manifesting, 
perhaps, too strong a tendency to the mythic theory, from 
which I have already ventured to express my dissent. A 
small, though estimable work, by Prof. Keyser of Chris- 
tiania, has also been frequently and not unprofitably con 
sulted 2 . 

That many of the Northern myths are after all densely 
obscure is a lamentable fact ; they were probably not much 
less so to the Northern pagans themselves, whose fore 
fathers, it may reasonably be supposed, brought with them 
no great stock of recondite lore from the mountains of 
central Asia to their present settlements in Scandinavia. 
Some portion of their obscurity may, however, be perhaps 
ascribed to the form in which they have been preserved ; 
as even in Ssemund s Edda, their oldest source, they ap 
pear in a garb which affords some ground for the conjec 
ture, that the integrity of the myth has been occasionally 
sacrificed to the structure and finish of the poem ; while in 

1 Nordisk Mythologi. Forlsesninger af N. M. Petersen. Kobenhavn, 
1849, 8vo. 

2 Nordmaendenes Religionsforfatning i Hedendommen, af R. Keyser. 
Christiania, 1847, 12mo. 


the later Edda of Snorri their corruption is, in several 
instances, glaringly evident, some of them there ap 
pearing in a guise closely bordering on the ludicrous l ; a 
circumstance, perhaps, ascribable, at least in part, to the 
zeal and sagacity of the Christian missionaries and early 
converts, who not unwisely considered ridicule one of the 
most efficacious methods of extirpating the heathenism 
that still lingered among the great mass of the people. 

But the myths of the Odinic faith were doomed to 
undergo a yet greater debasement; their next and final 
degradation being into a middle-age fiction or a nursery 
tale, in which new dress they are handly recognizable. A 
few instances of such metamorphoses will be found in the 
course of the work, and more are to be met with in the 
popular tales of Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands 
and Italy 2 . 

But besides these, and apparently of equal if not higher 
antiquity, there are many traditions and superstitions 
which cannot be connected with what we know of the 
Odinic faith. These, it may not unreasonably be con 
jectured, are relics of the mythology of the Fins and other 
primitive inhabitants of Scandinavia, who were driven 
northwards or into the mountain-recesses by Odin and 
his followers, and in whom and in their posterity we are 
to look for the giants (jotnar, jsetter, jutuler, etc.), the 
dwarfs and the elves, with whom the superstition of later 

1 See Thor s visit to Utgarda-Loki (p. 56), and Loki s pranks to make 
Skadi laugh (p. 45). 

2 See Faye s Norske Sagn; Thiele, Danmarks Folkesagn ; Afzelius 
Svenska Folkets Sago-Hafder ; Grimm s Kinder und Hausmarchen ; Wolfs 
Niederlandische Sagen ; the Pentamerone of Basile, etc. etc. 


times peopled the woods, the hills, the rivers and moun 
tain-caverns of the North. 

Thus far I have spoken solely of the mythology and 
early traditions of the three northern kingdoms, and with 
these it was originally my intention to close the work ; but 
at the suggestion of one, whose judgement I hold in no 
light estimation, I was induced to continue my labour, by 
adding to it a selection of the principal later popular tra 
ditions and superstitions of Scandinavia, North Germany 
and the Netherlands; and thus present to the reader a 
view of Germanic mythology and popular belief from the 
north of Norway to Belgium, and from the earliest times 
down to the present. To many should my book, unlike 
its predecessors, fortunately fall into the hands of many 
this will, perhaps, be regarded as not the least interesting 
part of it, from the circumstance of its supplying matter 
for comparison with the popular superstitions and usages of 
our own country, to not a few of which those here recorded 
will be found closely to correspond. To the ethnographer 
the subject cannot be one of indifference, when even the 
general reader cannot fail of being struck by the strong 
similarity and often perfect identity of the traditions and 
superstitions current in countries far remote from each 
other and without any known link of connection. That 
many of the traditions and superstitions of England and 
Scotland have their counterparts in Scandinavia and the 
north of Germany, can easily be accounted for by the 
original identity of, and subsequent intercourse, as friends 
or foes, between the several nations; but when we meet 
with a tradition in the far North, and a similar one not 
only in the south of Germany, but in the south of France, 


and even in Naples, according to what theory of the 
migration of peoples are we to explain the phenomenon ? 
One inference may, however, be drawn with tolerable 
certainty, viz. the great antiquity of many of these le 
gends, some of which are, indeed, traceable to Hebrew and 
Hindu sources 1 . 

By way of introduction to the matter contained in the 
third volume, I have given in the Appendix at the end of 
this volume, a brief sketch, chiefly from the work of Wil 
liam Miiller 2 , of the old German mythology, so far as it 
appears unconnected with the Scandinavian. 

From the great number of traditions contained in the 
works indicated in their respective places, I have chiefly 
selected those that seemed to spring from the old my 
thology, or at least from an old mythology ; as many of 
the supernatural beings, of whom we read in the traditions 
even of the three northern kingdoms, are not to be found 
in the Odinic system, and probably never had a place in 
it; but, as we have already said, were the divinities of 
those earlier races, who, it may be supposed, by intermar 
riages with their Gothic conquerors and a gradual return 
to their ancient home, contributed in no small degree to 
form the great mass of the people. Hence the introduc- 

1 Of the German popular superstitions some maybe traced to the Greek 
and Roman writers : that of the Bilsen-schnitters, for instance (see p. 245), 
is to be found in Apuleius, and the same is probably the case with others. 
The inference seems to be, that such are not genuine German superstitions, 
but that the South is their native soil, whence they have been transplanted 
to Germany or, at least, enrolled as German among the superstitions of 
that country. 

2 Geschichte und Systeme der Altdeutschen Religion von Wilhelm 
Miiller. Gottingen, 1844, 8vo, in which a great part of Grimm s Deutsche 
Mythologie is given in an abridged form. 


tion among and adoption by the later population of these 
alien objects of veneration or dread. 

To facilitate the use of the Northern Mythology as 
much as possible to the general reader, the passages quoted 
from the Eddas and Sagas are rendered literally into 
English. Of the poetical extracts the versions are allitera 
tive, in humble imitation of the originals. 

With respect to the orthography adopted in the My 
thology, it may be observed that, in the proper names of 
most frequent occurrence, the Old Norsk termination r (ri) 
of the nominative masculine (sometimes feminine), is, in 
conformity with common custom, usually omitted; and 
d is generally written instead of the old J? and $ (th, dh) : 
as Frey for Freyr, Odin for OSinn, Brynhild for Bryn- 
hildr. The Swedish (anciently also Danish) a and its 
Danish equivalent aa are pronounced like a in warm, or 
oa in broad. The pronunciation nearly resembles the 
German, ^ being pronounced as the English y, and g being 
always hard before i and e, as in give, get, and other 
English words of Anglo-Saxon origin. 

B. T. 

V The frontispiece, representing the scene described in the note at 
p. 132, is from a copy in Canciani, Leges Barbarorum. The original is 
in a manuscript of Snorri s Edda. 



XO every one who looks back on his past life, it pre 
sents itself rather through the beautifying glass of fancy, 
than in the faithful mirror of memory ; and this is more 
particularly the case the further this retrospection pene 
trates into the past, the more it loses itself in obscure 
images without any definite outline, the more it approaches 
to the earliest remembrances of childhood, and, in general, 
the more we strive to give to that which is dark and half 
obliterated renewed life in our minds. Then does a single 
incident, which in reality was probably of a very ordinary 
character, expand itself into a wonderful event, the heart 
beats, and a longing after the lost peace, the vanished hap 
piness, creates a dream, a state which, independent of man, 
has no existence, yet has its home deep in his breast. 
Among nations in the mass the same feeling prevails ; they 
also draw a picture of their infancy in glittering colours ; 
the fewer traditions they have, the more they embellish 
them ; the less trustworthy those traditions are, the more 




they sparkle in the brilliancy which fancy has lent them, 
the more the vain-glory of the people will continue to che 
rish, to ennoble and diffuse them from generation to gene 
ration, through succeeding ages. Man s ambition is two 
fold : he will not only live in the minds of posterity ; he 
will also have lived in ages long gone by; he looks not 
only forwards, but backwards also; and no people on 
earth is indifferent to the fancied honour of being able to 
trace its origin to the gods, and of being ruled by an 
ancient race. 

He who devotes himself to delineate the state of a people 
in its earliest times, takes on himself a task of difficulty. 
He shares with all his predecessors the same feeling, by 
which the departed attracts, even, perhaps, because it is no 
more, the veiy darkness dazzles, because it is so black : 
they who should guide him are probably blind themselves, 
and of those who wandered before him, many have, no 
doubt, taken devious paths. 

Every inquiry into the internal condition of a nation must 
necessarily turn on three points : the land, the people, and 
the state ; but these three are so variously interwoven with 
each other, that their investigation must resolve itself into 
several subordinate sections : it must set out with religion, 
as the element which pervades all, and is itself pervaded by 
all. We begin, therefore, our undertaking with a most 
difficult inquiry, a view of the whole mythology of the 
North, which we shall consider in three sections : I. the 
mythic matter, II. the several ways in which it has been 
attempted to explain it, III. an attempt at explanation 
derived from the matter itself, and founded on the original 



A view of the MYTHOLOGY or THE NORTH begins with 
the Creation. In the beginning of time a world existed in 
the north called Niflheim (Niflheimr), in the middle of 
which was a well called Hvergelmir, from which flowed 
twelve rivers 1 . In the south part there was another 
world, Muspellheim, (Muspellzheimr) 2 , a light and hot, 
a flaming and radiant world, the boundary of which was 
guarded by Surt (Surtr) with a flaming sword. Cold and 
heat contended with each other. From Niflheim flowed 
the poisonous cold streams called Elivagar 3 , which became 
hardened into ice, so that one layer of ice was piled on 
another in Ginnunga-gap 4 , or the abyss of abysses, which 
faced the north; but from the south issued heat from 
Muspellheim, and the sparks glittered so that the south 
part of Ginnunga-gap was as light as the purest air. 
The heat met the ice, which melted and dripped; the 
drops then, through his power who sent forth the heat, 
received life, and a human form was produced called 
Ymir 5 , the progenitor of the Frost-giants (Hrimjmrsar), 
who by the Frost-giants is also called Aurgelmir, that is, 
the ancient mass or chaos. He was not a god, but was 
evil, together with all his race. As yet there was neither 

1 Their names are Svavl, GunnJ>ra, Fiorm, Fimbul, pul, Slift, HriiS, 
Sylg, Ylg, Vift, Leipt, Gioll, which last is nearest to the barred gates of 
Hel. Gylfaginning, p. 4. 

2 The word Muspell has disappeared from all the Germanic tongues, 
except the Old-Saxon and the Old High German, where it signifies fire 
at the destruction of the world. See Heliand passim, and the fragment 
on the day of judgement, Muspilli, both edited by Schmeller. 

3 From el, a storm, and vagr (pi. vagar), river, wave. 

4 From ginn, wide, expanded, occurring only in composition. 

5 Ym from ymia, to make a noise, rush, roar. He who sent forth the 
heat is not Surt, who is only the guardian of Muspellheim, but a supreme 
ineffable being. 



sand nor sea nor cool waves, neither earth nor grass nor 
vaulted heaven, but only Ginnunga-gap, the abyss of 
abysses. Ymir was nourished from four streams of milk, 
which flowed from the udder of the cow Audhumla (Auft- 
humla), a being that came into existence by the power of 
Surt. From Ymir there came forth offspring while he 
slept : for having fallen into a sweat, from under his left 
arm there grew a man and a woman, and one of his feet 
begat a son by the other. At this time, before heaven 
and earth existed, the Universal Father (AlfoSr) was 
among the Hrimthursar, or Frost-giants 1 . 

The cow Audhumla licked the frost-covered stones that 
were salt, and the first day, towards evening, there came 
forth from them a man s hair, the second day a head, the 
third day an entire man. He was called Buri (the pro 
ducing) ; he was comely of countenance, tall and powerful. 
His son, Bor (the produced), was married to Bestla (or 
Belsta), a daughter of the giant Bolthorn, and they had 
three sons, Odin (OSinn), Vili and Ve. These brothers 
were gods, and created heaven and earth 2 . 

Bor s sons slew the giant Ymir, and there ran so much 
blood from his wound that all the frost-giants were 
drowned in it, except the giant Bergelmir (whose father 
was Thrudgelmir (pni^gelmir), and whose grandfather 
was Aurgelmir), who escaped with his wife on a chest 
(luiSr), and continued the race of the frost-giants. But 
Bor s sons carried the body of Ymir into the middle of 
Ginnunga-gap, and formed of it the earth, of his blood the 
seas and waters, of his bones the mountains, of his teeth 
and grinders and those bones that were broken, they made 
stones and pebbles ; from the blood that flowed from his 
wounds they made the great impassable ocean, in which 

1 Gylf. paragr. 3, 4, 5, 6. Voluspa, Str. 2, 3. Vaf^rudnism. Str. 30-33. 
HyndluljoS, Str. 32. 

Gylf. 6. Hyndluljoft, Str. 29. Runatals)?. 0$. Str. 3. 


they fixed the earth, around which it lies in a circle ; of 
his skull they formed the heaven, and set it up over the 
earth with four regions, and under each corner placed a 
dwarf, the names of whom were Austri, Vestri, Northri, 
Suthri; of his brain they formed the heavy clouds, of 
his hair the vegetable creation, and of his eyebrows a wall 
of defence against the giants round Midgard (MiJ?gar<$r), 
the middlemost part of the earth, the dwelling-place of 
the sons of men 1 . They then took the sparks and glowing 
cinders that were cast out of Muspellheim, and set them 
in heaven, both above and below, to illumine heaven and 
earth. They also assigned places for the lightning and 
fiery meteors, some in heaven, and some unconfined under 
heaven, and appointed to them a course. Hence, " as it is 
said in old philosophy," arose the division of years and 
days. Thus Bor s sons raised up the heavenly disks, and 
the sun shone on the cold stones, so that the earth was 
decked with green herbs. The sun from the south fol 
lowed the moon, and cast her 2 right arm round the hea 
venly horses door (the east) ; but she knew not where her 
dwelling lay, the moon knew not his power, nor did the 
stars know where they had a station. Then the holy gods 
consulted together, and gave to every light its place, and a 
name to the new moon (Nyi), and to the waning moon 
(Ni)?i), and gave names to the morning and the mid-day, to 
the forenoon (undern) and the evening, that the children 
of men, sons of time, might reckon the years thereafter 3 . 

Night (Nott) and Day (Dagr) were of opposite races. 
Night, of giant race, was dark, like her father, the giant 
Norvi (or Narfi). She was first married to Naglfari, and 
had by him a son named Aud (Au$r) ; secondly to Anar 

i See p. 10. 

8 In the Germanic tongues the sun is feminine, the moon masculine. 
3 Gylf. 7, 8. Voluspa, Str. 4, 5, 6. Vatyruduism. Str. 20,21, 29, 35. 
Grimnism. Str. 40, 41. 


(or Onar); their daughter was Earth (I6Y3) ; lastly to 
Belling, who was of the race of the ^Esir, and their son was 
Day, who was fair, bright and beautiful, through his pa 
ternal descent. All-father took Night and Day, and gave 
them two horses and two cars, and placed them in heaven, 
that they might ride successively, in twenty-four hours 
time, round the earth. Night rides first with her horse 
which is named Hrimfaxi, that bedews the earth each morn 
with the drops from his bit. He is also called Fiorsvart- 
nir 1 . The horse belonging to Day is called Skinfaxi, from 
whose shining mane light beams forth over heaven and 
earth. He is also called Glad (GlaSr) and Drosul. The 
Moon and the Sun are brother and sister; they are the 
children of Mundilfori, who, on account of their beauty, 
called his son Mani, and his daughter Sol ; for which pre 
sumption the gods in their anger took brother and sister 
and placed them in heaven, and appointed Sol to drive the 
horses that draw the chariot of the sun, which the gods 
had formed, to give light to the world, of the sparks from 
Muspellheim. Sol was married to a man named Glen 
(Glenur, Glanur), and has to her car the horses Arvakur 
(the watchful), and Alsvith (the rapid), under whose 
shoulders the gods placed an ice-cold breeze to cool them. 
Svalin (the cooling) is the name of a shield that stands 
before the sun, which would else set waves and mountains 
on fire. Mani directs the course of the moon, and regu 
lates Nyi and Nithi. He once took up two children from 
the earth, Bil and Hiuki (Hviki), as they were going from 
the well of Byrgir, bearing on their shoulders the bucket 
Sseg, and the pole Simul. Their father was Vidfinn ; they 
follow Mani, as may be observed from the earth. There 
are also two wolves to be mentioned, one of which, named 
Skoll, follows the sun, and which she fears will swallow 

1 Finn Magnusen considers Fib rsvartnir as the name of a second horse 
belonging to Night, and so of Glad. Lex. Myth, sub voce. 


her; the other called Hati, the son of Hrodvitnir, runs 
before the sun, and strives to seize on the moon *, and so 
in the end it will be. The mother of these wolves is a 
giantess, who dwells in a wood to the east of Midgard, 
called Jarnvid (JarnvrSr), in which those female demons 
(trollkonur) dwell called Jarnvids (JarnvrSjur) . She 
brought forth many sons, who are giants, and all in the 
form of wolves. One of this race, named Managarm, is 
said to be the most powerful ; he will be sated with the 
lives of all dying persons ; he will swallow up the moon, 
and thereby besprinkle both heaven and air with blood. 
Then will the sun lose its brightness, and the winds rage 
and howl in all directions, as it is said 2 : 

Eastward sat the crone 

in the iron wood, 

and there brought forth 

Fenrir s offspring. 

Of these shall be 

one worse than all, 

the moon s devourer 

in a demon s guise. 

Fill d shall he be 

with the fated s lives, 

the gods abode 

with the red blood shall stain. 

Then shall the summer s 

sun be darken d, 

all w r eather turn to storm. 

The father of Winter (Vetur) was called Vindsval, of 
Summer (Sumar), Svasud (Svasuftr). Both shall reign 
every year until the gods pass away. At the end of heaven 

1 That wolves follow the sun and moon, is a wide-spread popular super 
stition. In Swedish solvarg (sun-wolf) signifies a parhelion. Petersen. 
Nor. Myth. p. 76. 

2 Vbluspa, Str. 32, 33. 


sits the giant Hrsesvelg, in an eagle s garb (arna ham) l . 
From the motion of his wings comes the wind which passes 
over men 2 . 

Thus the first created beings were Ymir and his race, 
the giants ; next were the gods, who created heaven and 
earth ; for not until these were in existence, and ready as 
places of abode for living beings, were the dwarfs and 
human race created 3 . 

The mighty gods, or JEsir 4 , assembled on Ida s plain 
(LSavollr) in the middle of their city Asgard. There they 
first erected a court (hof), wherein were seats for all the 
twelve, and a high seat for All-father ; also a lofty burgh 
or hall (havrgr) for the goddesses, called Vingolf. They 
then constructed a smithy, made hammers, tongs, anvils 
and, in fine, all other requisite implements. There they 
worked in metal, stone and wood, and so extensively in the 
metal called gold, that all their household gear was formed 
of it, whence that age was called the Golden Age. This 
lasted until it was corrupted by the women that came from 
Jotunheim, or the giants world, as it is said 5 : 
The JSsir met 
on Ida s plain, 

1 The Shetlanders of the present day are said by Scott, in his Pirate, 
to adjure the wind under the form of an eagle. 

2 Gylf. 10, 11. Vafbrudnism. Str. 12, 14, 22-27, 37. Grimnism. Str. 
37, 38. Skaldsk. 58. 

3 Both giants and dwarfs shun the light. If surprised by the breaking 
forth of day, they become changed to stone. In the Alvismal, Ving-Thor 
amuses the dwarf Alvis with various questions till daylight, and then 
coolly says to him, " With great artifices, I tell thee, thou hast been de 
ceived ; thou art surprised here, dwarf ! by daylight : the sun now shines 
in the hall." In the Helga Kvi>a Hadinga Ska>a also, Atli says to the 
giantess (nicker) Hnmgerd : " It is now day, Hrimgerd ! But Atli hath 
detained thee to thy life s perdition. It will appear a laughable harbour- 
mark, where thou standest as a stone-image." Saemund s Edda, pp. 51, 

4 jEsir, pi. of As. 5 Voluspa, Str. 7, 8. 


altars and temples 
upraised high, 
furnaces constructed, 
forged precious things, 
fashion d tongs, 
and fabricated tools. 
At dice they played 
in their dwelling joyful ; 
rich too they were 
in ruddy gold, 
until thither three 
Thurs-maidens came 
from Jotunheim. 

Then the gods sitting on their thrones held counsel. They 
considered how the dwarfs had been quickened in the 
mould down in the earth, like maggots in a dead body ] : 
for the dwarfs had been first created 2 , and received life in 
the carcase of Ymir, and were then maggots ; but now, by 
the decree of the gods, they received human understanding 
and human bodies, though they dwell in the earth and in 
stones 3 . Modsognir (Moftsognir) was the chief, the second 
Durin, as it is said in the Voluspa 4 : " The holy gods deli 
berated who should create the race of dwarfs, from Ymir s 
blood and livid (blue) bones." The dwarfs of Lofar^s race 
betook themselves from the Rocky Hall (Salar-Steinn) over 
the earth-field s regions (Aurvangur) to Jora s plains (J6- 

1 For hold, body, dead carcase, some MSS. read blo>i, blood. 

2 According to Snorri s Edda the dwarfs were created after mankind, 
while in the other Edda it is the reverse. 

3 In the German tales the dwarfs are described as deformed and dimi 
nutive, coarsely clad and of dusky hue : " a little black man ;" " a little grey 
man." They are sometimes described of the height of a child of four years ; 
sometimes as two spans high, a thumb high (hence Tom Thumb). The old 
Danish ballad of Eline af Villenskov mentions a trold not bigger than 
an ant. Danske Viser, i. p. 1 76. Dvergmal (the speech of the dwarfs) is the 
Old Norse expression for the echo in the mountains. Grimm, D. M. p. 421. 

4 Str. 10. 

B 5 


ruvellir) 1 . Their several names bear allusion to the sub 
ordinate powers of nature in the mineral and vegetable 
kingdoms, and express the operating power which pene 
trates the soil,, the veins of stone, the sap of plants ; also 
the cold and heat, the light and the colours which are 
thereby produced 2 . 

Men came into existence when three mighty, benevolent 
gods, Odin, Hoenir and Lodur (Loftur) 3 , left the assembly 
to make an excursion. On the earth they found Ask and 
Embla (ash and elm ?), with little power and without de 
stiny : spirit they had not, nor sense, nor blood, nor power 
of motion, nor fair colour. Odin gave them spirit (breath), 
Hoenir sense, Lodur blood and fair colour. Somewhat less 
circumstantially, though illustratively, it is related in 
Snorri s Edda, that BbYs sons (Odin, Vili and Ve) walking 
on the sea-shore found two trees, which they took up, and 
created men of them. The first gave them spirit and life ; 
the second, understanding and power of motion ; the third, 
aspect, speech, hearing and sight 4 . The man they called 
Ask, the woman Embla. From this pair the whole human 
race is descended, to whom a dwelling w r as assigned in 

EARTH AND HEAVEN. The earth is flat and round; 
about it is the deep ocean. Outermost of all, around 
the shore, is the giants abode, Jotunheim or Utgard, 

1 In the later popular belief the dwarfs are generally called the subter 
raneans, the brown men in the moor, etc. They make themselves invisible 
by a hat or hood. The women spin and weave, the men are smiths. In 
Norway rock-crystal is called dwarf-stone (dvaergsten). Certain stones are 
in Denmark called dwarf-hammers (dvserghamre). They borrow things 
and seek advice from people, and beg aid for their wives when in labour, 
all which services they reward. But they also lame cattle, are thievish and 
will carry off damsels. There have been instances of dwarf females having 
married and had children by men. Petersen, Nor. Myth. p. 109. 

2 Gylf. 14. Voluspa, Str. 7-16. 

3 Connected with Ger. lodern, to flame, blaze. 

4 Gylf. 9. Voluspa, Str. 15,16. 


against whose attacks the gods raised a bulwark within, 
around Midgard, formed of Ymir s eyebrows 1 . In the 
middle of the world, and on the highest spot, dwell the 
^Esir, in Asgard, where All-father Odin established rulers, 
who with himself should preside over the burgh and the 
destinies of men. There is the largest and noblest of all 
dwellings, Gladsheim (Gla^sheimr), and another, roofed 
with silver, called Valaskialf, which Odin, in the beginning 
of time, curiously constructed, and from the throne in 
which (Hlidskialf) he looks out over all worlds, and learns 
the doings of all creatures. " At the world s southern end 
there is a hall, the fairest of all and brighter than the sun, 
which is called Gimli. That will stand when both heaven 
and earth are past away, and good and upright men will 
inhabit that place to all eternity. It is, moreover, said that 
there is another heaven to the south, above this, which is 
called Andlang, and a third still higher called Vidblain 
(VrSblainn), in which last we believe this hall to be ; but 
we believe that only the Light Elves now inhabit those 
places." In another hall, as we have already seen, is the 
abode of the goddesses, which men call Vingolf. Between 
the giants and the gods flows the river Ifing, on which ice 
never comes. From Midgard to Asgard leads the bridge 
Bifrost (the quaking space), known to mortals as the rain 
bow : it has three colours. The most sacred place or seat 
of the gods is by the ash Yggdrasil, where they daily sit in 
judgement. Yggdrasil is the largest and best of trees ; its 
branches spread themselves over the whole world, and tower 
up above the heavens. It has three roots which reach far 
and wide. Under one of them is the abode of Hel, the 
goddess of the dead; under the second dwell the frost- 
giants ; under the third, human beings. Or, according to 
the prose Edda, the first root reaches to the^Esir; the second 
to the frost-giants, where was formerly Ginnunga-gap, 
1 See p. 4. 


while the third stands over Niflheim, under which is Hver- 
gelniir. This root is constantly gnawed from beneath by 
the serpent Nidhogg (NrShb ggr). Under the second root 
is Mimir s well, in which wisdom and genius are concealed. 
Mimir, the owner of the well, is full of wisdom, because 
he drinks every morning of the well from the horn Gioll 
(Giallar-horn) . All-father once came, and craved a draught 
from the well, but got it not before he had given an eye as 
a pledge ; whence it is said that Mimir drinks mead every 
morning from Valfather s pledge. Under the root which 
reaches to the ^Esir s abode, is the sacred fountain of Urd 
(UHSr), where the gods sit in judgement. Every day the 
JEtsir ride thither over Bifrost, which is likewise called the 
^Esir-bridge (Asbru) . The names of the ^Esir s horses are 
as follow : Sleipnir, which is the best, and belongs to Odin, 
has eight legs, Glad (Glaftr), Gyllir, Gler, Skeidbrimir 
(SkerSbrimir), Silfrintop (Silfrintoppr), Sinir, Gils, Fal- 
hofnir, Gulltop (Gulltoppr), Lettfeti. Baldur s horse was 
burnt with him, and Thor walks to the meeting, and wades 
through the rivers Kormt and Ormt, and the two Kerlaugs, 
else the ^Esir s bridge would be in a blaze, and the sacred 
water boil. By the well of Urd there stands, under the 
ash -tree, a fair hall, from which go three maidens, Urd, 
Verdandi, and Skulld 1 (past time, present time, and future 
time) . They are called Noras (Nornir) ; they grave on 
the tablet (shield), determine the life, and fix the destiny 
of the children of men. But besides these there are 
other Norns, viz. those that are present at the birth of 
every child, to determine its destiny. These are of the 
race of the gods, while some others are of elf-race, and 
others of the dwarf-kin, or daughters of Dvalin. The good 
Norns and those of good descent allot good fortune ; and 
when men fall into misfortunes, it is to be ascribed to the 
evil Norns. Mention occurs of the dogs of the Norns. 
1 Skulld the youngest of the Norns, is also a Valkyria. Gylf. 36. 


In the branches of the tree Yggdrasil sits an eagle that 
knows many things. Between his eyes sits the hawk Ve- 
durfolnir. The squirrel Ratatosk runs up and down the 
tree, and bears rancorous words between the eagle and the 
serpent Nidhogg. Four harts run among the boughs and 
bite its buds ; their names are, Dain, Dvalin, Dunneyr and 
Durathror. In Hvergelmir, under Yggdrasil, there are so 
many serpents, besides Nidhogg, that no tongue may tell 
them, as it is said 1 : 

Yggdrasil s ash 
evil suffers 

more than men know of : 
at the side it moulders, 
a hart gnaws it above, 
Nidhogg beneath tears it. 
Under Yggdrasil lie 
unnumber d snakes, 
more than mindless 
men can conceive. 

Those Norns that dwell by the well of Urd take water 
every day from the spring, which, with the mud that lies 
about it, they pour over the ash, that its branches may not 
rot and perish. This water is so sacred, that everything 
that enters it becomes as white as the film of an egg-shell, 
as it is said in the Voluspa : 

An ash I know 
Yggdrasil named, 
A branchy tree, bedew d 
With brightest water. 
Thence come the dews 
into the dales that fall : 
ever stands it flourishing 
o er Urda s fountain. 

The dew that falls from its branches on the earth is by 
men called honey-dew, and is the food of bees. Two birds 

1 Grimnismal, Str. 34, 35. 


are fed in the well of Urd, called swans, and from them 
descend the birds of that species 1 . 

WAR. " It was the first warfare in the world when they 
(men) pierced Gullveig through with a spear, and burned 
her in the High one s (Odin s) hall 2 . Thrice they burned 
her, thrice she was born anew : again and again, but she 
still lives. When she comes to a house, they call her 
Heidi (the bright, the welcome), and regard her as a pro 
pitious vala or prophetess. She can tame wolves, under 
stands witchcraft (seiSr), and delights wicked women. Here 
upon the gods consulted together, whether they should 
punish this misdeed, or accept a blood-fine; when Odin 
cast forth a spear among the people (mankind), and now 
began war and slaughter in the world. The ^Esir-burgh s 
defences were broken down. The Vanir anticipated war, 
and hastened over the field. The Valkyriur (choosers of 
those doomed to fall) came from afar, ready to ride to the 
gods people : Skulld with the shield, Skogul, Gunn, Hild, 
Gondul, and Geir-Skogul. These were Odin s maidens, 
the Valkyriur, ready to ride over the earth 3 , whom he sends 
to every battle-field, there to choose those that shall fall, 
and decide the victory. Surrounded by lightnings, with 
bloody corselets and radiant spears, they ride through the 
air and on the ocean. When their horses shake their 
manes, dew falls in the deep valleys and hail in the high 
forests 4 ." 

The .ZEsir and the Vanir made peace, and reciprocally 
gave hostages. The Vanir gave to the ^Esir Niord the 
Rich, whom the wise powers had created in Vanaheim, 

1 Gylf. 9, 14-17. Voluspa, Str. 19-22, 31. Vaf)>rudnism. Str. 15, 16. 
Grimnism. Str. 6, 31-35. Fafnism. Str. 13. Hamftsm. Str. 30. 

2 The world. 

3 Voluspa, Str. 24-28. I read the strophes in the following order : 
26, 25, 27, 28, 24. P. 

4 Gylf. 36. Helgakv. Hadinga Sk. 28. Helgakv. Hundb. 1, 15. 


together with his children, Frey and Freyia. The 
on their part, gave Hoenir, and sent him with Mimir, for 
whom in return they received Kvasir, the most prudent 
among the Vanir. Hoenir was raised to the chieftainship 
over the Vanir ; but in all assemblies where good counsel 
was required, Mimir was obliged to whisper to Hoenir 
everything he should say ; and in his absence, Hoenir con 
stantly answered, " yes, consult now ye others/ The Vanir 
hereupon, thinking themselves deceived, slew Mimir, and 
sent his head to the ^Esir, which Odin so prepared with 
herbs and incantations, that it spoke to him, and told him 
many hidden things 1 . 

THE GODS. There are twelve principal ^Esir, besides 
All-father (Al-fo$r) or Odin, who has his own throne 2 . 

The highest among the gods is ODIN*. He is called All- 
father, because he is the father of all, gods and men ; also 
Valfather, because all the free that fall in battle belong to 
him. They are received into Valhall and Vingolf, and are 
called Einheriar 4 . But in the old Asgard he had twelve 
names, and has besides many others 5 , every people having 

1 Ynglingas. c. 4. Gylf. 23. ValJ>rudnism. Str. 39. Lokaglepsa, Str. 
34, 35. Grimnism. Str. 50. 

2 Gylf. 14. 20. 

3 In Norway Thor was regarded as the principal deity. In the great 
temple at Upsala his image occupied the second place. (Might it not have 
been the centre ?) Among the Swedes the worship of Frey seems chiefly 
to have been followed. The Danes, Gothlanders and Saxons appear to 
have been addicted to the worship of Odin (Woden). Grimm, D.M. p. 146. 
In the Sagas Thor is usually named before Odin. Ib. p. 147. Associated 
with Har and Jafnhar, Odin appears under the denomination of Thrithi 
(Third). Snorra Edda, p. 3. In the Grimnismal he assigns to himself all 
the three names. Edda Ssem. p. 46. 

4 Gylf. 20. Bragara3$ur, 55. Hyndlulj. Str. 28. Asaheiti in Snorra- 
Edda, p. 211. 

5 His other names were Herran or Herian, Nikar or Hnikar, Nikuz or 
Hnikuft, Fiolnir, Oski, Omi, Biflifti or Biflindi, Sviftor, Svi>rir, Vi>rir, Jalg 
or Jalkr. He is also called Drauga drottin, lord of spectres. Ynglingas. 


given him a peculiar one 1 . In other words, his agency in 
heaven and earth is so great and manifold, that it is ex 
pressed by so many various names : as examples may be 
cited, Alda-gautr 2 and Alda-fo$r, creator and father of men 
Vera-tyr, god of men ; Val-f6$r, father of the slain, because 
those that fell in battle came to him; Sig-fo^r or Seier-foiSr, 
father of victory; Herian, devastator; Sid-hat (Sr3-hottr), 
broad-hat; Sid-skegg (Sr3-skeggr), ample-beard; Hanga- 
gud, Hanga-tyr, god or lord of the hanged, because the 
hanged were thought to belong to him 3 . Other names 
assumed by Odin are : 

1. Gangrad (Gangraftr, GagnraSr), under which he paid 
a visit to the giant Vafthrudnir, the object and particulars 
of which form the subject of the eddaic poem, Vaf]?rudnis- 
mal, and are as follow : 

Odin imparts to his wife Frigg, that he is seized with a 
strong desire to visit the all-wise giant Yafthrudnir, for the 
purpose of contending with him in the wisdom of ancient 
times. Frigg endeavours to dissuade him from the journey, 
in the belief that no one is able to contend with Vaf- 
thrudnir. Odin then reminds her of his numerous wander 
ings and trials, and persists in his resolve to see the ha 
bitation of the giant ; whereupon Frigg wishes him a 
pleasant journey and safe return, and prays that his saga 
city may prove sufficient in his trial of words. Odin then 
departs, and arrives at the hall of the giant, in the guise 
of a traveller, and under the name of Gangrad. Here he 
greets the giant, and tells him the object of his coming. 
Vafthrudnir answers rather angrily, and gives him to un- 

1 Odin could change his form : his body would lie as dead or asleep, 
while he, as a bird or beast, fish or serpent, would in an instant pass into 
other lands. Ynglingas. c. 7. 

2 From alda(of men), and gauta (creator, caster), from gjota, gaut, to 
cant (metal). Prof. Munch, cited by Petersen. 

3 Connected probably with the myth of his having hung nine nights on 
a tree. Hrafn. OSins. 


derstand, that if he prove the less wise of the two, he shall 
not leave the hall alive. Odin then informs his antagonist 
that, after a long journey, he is come thirsty (after wisdom?) 
to his mansion, and in need of a good reception, whereupon 
the giant desires him to sit, and the contest begins. The 
giant then proposes that their contest shall be head for 
head, and all goes on smoothly, each answering the other s 
questions satisfactorily, until Gangrad asks what Odin 
whispered in the ear of Baldur before the latter was laid 
on the pile. Startled the giant now exclaims : " No one 
knows what thou, in the beginning of time, didst whisper 
to thy son. With death on my lips have I interpreted the 
wisdom of old and the fate of the gods ; with Odin have I 
contended, with the wise speaker : ever art thou wisest of 
all I" 

The questions are entirely of a cosmogonic or mytho- 
logic nature, as may be seen by the numerous quotations 
from the poem in the course of this section of the present 

2. Grimnir. Why Odin assumed this appellation will 
be seen in the following story, being the prose introduction 
to the eddaic poem, Grimnismal. 

" King Hrodung (Hrojmngr) had two sons, one named 
Agnar, the other Geirrod (GeirroSr). Agnar was ten, and 
Geirrod eight years old. They once rowed out in a boat, 
with hook and line, to catch small fish, but the wind drove 
them out to sea. In the darkness of the night they were 
wrecked on the sea-shore, and went on land, where they 
met with a small farmer, with whom they passed the win 
ter. The farmer s wife brought up Agnar, but the farmer 
himself took charge of Geirrod, and gave him good advice. 
In the spring the farmer gave them a vessel, and he and 
his wife accompanied them down to the shore, where the 
farmer had a long conversation alone with Geirrod. A 
favourable wind soon bore them to their father s dwelling. 


Geirrod, who was foremost in the boat, sprang on shore, 
and pushed the boat out to sea, saying, Go hence in the 
power of the evil spirits 3 (smyl) . He then went home to 
his paternal habitation, where he was received with wel 
come, and his father being dead, was made king, and 
attained to considerable reputation. 

" Odin and Frigg were sitting in Hlidskialf, and looking 
over the whole world, when Odin said, f Seest thou thy 
foster-son Agnar, how he passes his time in dalliance with 
a giantess in a cave, while Geirrod, my foster-son, is a king 
ruling over the land ? Frigg answered, He is so inhos 
pitable, that he tortures his guests, when he thinks they 
are too numerous/ Odin said that this was the greatest 
of falsehoods. They then laid a wager, and Odin resolved 
on a visit to Geirrod. Frigg now sent her confidential 
attendant, Fulla, to Geirrod, to advise him to be on his 
guard, lest the wizard that had arrived in his country 
should cause his destruction, adding, as a token whereby 
to know him, that no dog, however fierce, would attack 
him. That King Geirrod was not hospitable, was mere 
idle talk, he nevertheless caused the man to be seized that 
the dogs would not assail. He was clad in a grey fur, and 
called himself Grimnir, but would give no further account 
of himself, although questioned, To extort a confession, 
the king had him tortured, by placing him between two 
fires, where he sat during eight days. Geirrod had a son 
of ten years, named Agnar after his uncle. This youth 
went to Grimnir and gave him a hornful of drink, saying 
that his father had acted unjustly in causing an innocent 
person to be tortured. The fire had by this time ap 
proached so near that Grimnir s fur was singed." He then 
sang the mytho-cosmogonic song called Grimnismal, in 
which he enumerates and describes the habitations of the 
twelve chief ^Esir, of which further notice will be found 
hereafter. The remainder of the poem consists of mytho- 


logical matter, the substance of which is to be found inter 
spersed throughout the present work. The end of the 
story is as follows : 

" King Geirrod was sitting with his sword half-drawn 
across his knees, when he heard that it was Odin that was 
come, whereupon he rose for the purpose of removing him 
from the fire, when his sword slipt from his hand, in en 
deavouring to recover which, he fell forwards, and was 
pierced through with the weapon. Odin then vanished, 
and Agnar reigned in his father s stead." 

3. Vegtam (viator indefessus) . Under this denomination 
Odin goes to consult the spirit of a vala that lies buried 
near the gate of HePs abode, respecting the fate of Bal- 
dur. The substance of this poem is given in the present 
work ] . 

4. Hdr, Jafnhdr, Thrithi (High, Even-high, Third) under 
which denomination he appears in Snorri s Edda as a sort 
of northern trinity. In Grimnismal he assigns all these 
names to himself. 

He was called Hrafna-gud, (the ravens god), because he 
has two ravens, Hugin and Munin, which he sends forth 
over the wide world to get intelligence : when they return, 
they sit on his shoulders, and tell him all they have seen 
and heard. But he is anxious on account of Hugin, fear 
ing he will not return, and still more so for Munin. As 
creator of heaven and earth, Odin rules and orders all 
things : he gives victory and riches, eloquence and under 
standing, the skaldic or poetic art, manliness and fair 
wind 2 . 

Odin s abode is, as we have said, named Gladsheim 
(GlaSsheimr), with its hall Valhall (Valholl) radiant with 

1 There is a beautiful paraphrase of it by Gray, under the title of " The 
Descent of Odin." 

2 Gylf. 20, 38. Vegtaraskv. Str. 6. Vafj?rudnism. Str. 4. Grimnism. 
Str. 20, 46-50, 54. Hyndlulj. Str. 2, 3. 


gold, where lie daily receives those that fall in arms. The 
halFs ceiling is formed of spears, it is roofed with shields, 
and the benches are strewed with coats of mail ; before 
the west door hangs a wolf, and over him an eagle hovers. 
It is surrounded by a roaring river called Thund 1 , and 
before it is a paling or lattice named Valgrind. It has five 
hundred and forty gates, through each of which eight 
hundred men can go abreast. Without the gates of Val- 
hall is the wood Glasir, where the leaves are of red gold. 
They who from the battle-field come to Odin are called 
Einheriar, or chosen heroes ; their occupation consists in 
arming themselves, in going out into the court, to fight 
with and slay each other ; but at breakfast-time they ride 
home to Valhall, perfectly sound, drink beer with the 
Msir, and recruit themselves with the flesh of the hog 
Ssehrimnir; for this hog, although boiled every day by 
the cook Andhrimnir, in the kettle Eldhrimnir, is whole 
again in the evening. The mead which they drink flows 
from the udder of the goat Heidrun (Hei|?run), that feeds 
on the leaves of the tree Lerad (LeraiSr), which stands over 
Odin s hall. With this mead a drinking-vessel is filled of 
such capacity, that all the Einheriar have wherewith to 
satisfy themselves. Here they are waited upon by the 
Valkyriur, who present the mead and have charge of every 
thing belonging to the table. The branches of the tree 

1 This interpretation I believe to be borne out by the context of Grim- 
nismal, Str. 21, which has manifestly been misunderstood, viz. 

pytr )>und, Thund roars, arstraumr Jnkir the strong streams 


unir pioflvitnis Thiodvitnir s fish ofer mikill over great 

fiskr flofti i plays in the river valglaumi at vafta for the band of the 

fallen to wade. 

pund, the roaring (like Odin s name pundr), I take for the name of the 
river that surrounds Valhall. Valglaumr, as Rask observes, is the com 
pany of valr, or fallen, that have to pass over the river to come to Val 
hall. What is meant by Thiodvitnir s fish is unknown, P. 


Lerad are eaten also by the hart Eikthyrnir, from whose 
horns drops fall into Hvergelmir, of which many rivers are 
formed, some of which flow through the domains of the 
gods, others in the neighbourhood of men, and fall from 
thence to Hel. Odin takes no food, but gives that 
which is set before him at table to his wolves, Geri 
and Freki ; Odin lives solely on wine. His attendant is 
his son Hermod (Hermoftr), whom he sends on his mes 
sages * . 

THOR, or ASA-THOR, a son of Odin and the earth (Fiorg- 
vin, the vivifying ; Hlodyn, the warming*), is the strongest 
of all the gods 3 . He rules over the realm of Thrudvang 
(praiSvangur) or Thrudheim (pnrSheimr), and his man 
sion is named Bilskirnir, in which there are five hundred 
and forty floors. It is the largest house ever seen by men. 
He is also called Hlorridi (the Fire-driver or rider), Ving- 

1 Gylf. 20, 36, 38-41. Skaldskap. 34. VafJ>rudnism. Str. 41. Grim- 
nism. Str. 8-10, 18, 19, 21-28, 36. Hrafnag. 0$. Str. 10. Hyndlulj. Str. 2. 

2 The goddess Hlodyn seems also to have been known to the Germans. 
Near Birten, on the Lower Rhine, the following inscription was found, now 
preserved at Bonn : DE^E HLUDAN^E SACRUM C. TIBERIUS VERUS. Thor- 
lacius, with great probability (Antiq. Bor. Spec, iii.), identifies Hludana 
with the Hlodyn of the North, and certainly Hludana was neither a Ro 
man nor a Celtic divinity ; though Schreiber (Die Feen in Europa, p. 63) 
refers the name to the town of Liiddingen, not far from Birten. Grimm, 
D.M. p. 235. Miiller, Altdeutsche Religion, p. 88. 

3 Thor is described sometimes as an old man, though usually as a tall, 
slender, comely young man with a red beard ; on his head there is a crown 
of twelve stars (Steph. Not in Sax. p. 139). When he waxes wroth he 
blows in his red beard, and thunder resounds among the clouds. And St. 
Olaf the king to whom, on the suppression of heathenism in the North, 
much of Thor s character was transferred by the missionaries, for the pur 
pose, no doubt, of reconciling their converts to the new faith is cele 
brated as resembling his prototype even to the hue of his beard, as we 
learn from the troll-wife s address to him, when he caused a rock, that had 
obstructed his course, to part in two : 

" Saint Olaf with thy beard so red, 
Why sailest thou through my cellar wall ?" 


Thor, &c., and sometimes Auku-Thor, Oku-Thor (Car-Thor) , 
because he drives in a chariot with two he-goats, Tanngniost 
and Tanngrisnir. He is the constant enemy of the giants 
and trolls. He possesses three precious things, viz. 1. the 
hammer Miolnir, which the frost- and mountain-giants 
know but too well, when he swings it in the air ; 2. his 
belt of power (Megingjar]?ar), when girded with which his 
strength is doubled; 3. his iron gloves, which he requires 
when he grasps the haft of Miolnir. As the jarls (men 
of rank, whence our earls) that fall in battle belong to 
Odin, in like manner Thor has the race of thralls. Thor s 
sons are Magni and Modi (M6j?i). By his wife Sif he has 
a daughter named Thrud (prtiSr). He is foster-father to 
Vingnir and Hlora. On his travels he is attended by 
Thialfi and Roskva 1 . 

BALDUR is Odin s second son (by Frigg) ; he is the best 
and is praised by all. He is so fair of aspect, and so bright, 
that light issues from him ; and there is a plant, that of 
all plants is the whitest, which is compared to Baldur s 
brow t 2 . Hence an idea may be formed of his beauty both 
of hair and person. He is the wisest, and most eloquent, 

1 Gylf. 21. Voluspa, Str. 56. Lokaglepsa, Str. 55, 57, 58. Hamarsh. 
Str. 1, 9. Grimnism. Str. 4, 24. HarbarSslj. Str. 24, 54. Alvism. Str. 6. 
Hyndlulj. Str. 40. Skaldskap. 4, 21. and p. 211. 

The aconite (wolfsbane, monkshood) is in Norway called Thorhjalm 
(Thori galea), Thorhat (Thori pileus) ; Swed. Dan. stormhat. May not 
its denomination of wolfsbane bear allusion to Thor s combat with the 
wolf ? It is also called Tyrihjalm (Tyris galea). See Grimm, D. M. p. 

2 In Denmark, Baldur s brow is the anthemis cotula ; in Iceland, the 
matricaria maritima inodora ; in Sweden, a plant called hvitatoja (white 
eye) or hvitapiga (white lass). In Skania, the anthemis cotula bears the 
name of balsensbro. On the right hand side of the road leading from Co 
penhagen to Roeskilde there is a well called Baldur s Brbnd, which he is 
said to have opened after a battle with Hb dur, to refresh his men suffer 
ing from heat and fatigue. The tradition among the country-people is, 
that it was produced by a stroke of the hoof of Baldur s horse. See Saxo, 
p. 120, and Bp. Miiller s note ; also Thiele, Danske Folkesagn, i. 5. 



and most amiable of the ^Esir, and is so gifted by nature 
that no one may pervert his judgements. His abode is in 
heaven, in the place called Breidablik, into which nothing 
impure may enter 1 . 

1 Gylf. 22. A short poem, in Old High German, of the ninth or tenth 
century, discovered a few years since at Merseburg by Dr. Waitz, and 
published by Dr. J. Grimm, has for subject the horse of Phol, whom 
Grimm, with great probability, takes to be identical with Baldur. As 
the anecdote it contains does not appear in either Edda, though the tra 
dition, as will presently be seen, has been, and probably still is, current 
not only in the North and the Netherlands, but also in this island, I do 
not hesitate in giving the entire poem together with its more modern 

Phol endi Wodan 

vuorun zi holza : 

du wart demo Balderes volon 

sin vuoz birenkit ; 

thu biguolen Sinthgunt, 

Sunna era suister ; 

thu biguolen Frua, 

Volla era suister ; 

thu biguolen Wodan, 

so he wola conda, 

sose benrenki, 

sose bluotrenki, 

sose lidirenki ; 

* # # 

ben zi bena, 
bluot zi bluoda, 
lid zi geliden, 
sose gelimida sin. 

Phol and Woden 
went to the wood ; 
then was of Balder s colt 
his foot wrenched ; 
then Sinthgunt charm d it, 
and Sunna her sister ; 
then Frua charm d it, 
and Volla her sister ; 
then Woden charm d it, 
as he well could, 
as well the bone-wrench, 
as the blood-wrench, 
as the joint -wrench ; 
* # # 

bone to bone, 
blood to blood, 
joint to joint, 
as if they were glued together. 

Under the following christianized form it appears in Norway : 

Jesus reed sig til Heede, 

der reed han syndt (sender) 


Jesus stigede af og tegte det ; 
Jesus lagde Marv i Marv, 
Ben i Ben, Kjod i Kjod ; 
Jesus lagde derpaa et Blad, 
At det skulde blive i samme stad. 

Jesus rode to the heath, 
sit There he rode the leg of his colt in 


Jesus dismounted and heal d it ; 
Jesus laid marrow to marrow, 
Bone to bone, flesh to flesh ; 
Jesus laid thereon a leaf, 
That it might remain in the same place. 

In Asbjornsen s Norske Huldreeventyr (i. 45) an old Norwegian crone 


The third As is NIORD (Njb r)>r). He dwells in Noatun. 
He rules the course of the wind, stills the ocean, and 
quenches fire. He is invoked by sea-farers and fishermen, 
and is the patron of temples and altars 1 . He is so rich 
that he can give wealth and superfluity to those that in- 

applies the veterinary remedy to a young man s sprained ankle, in the 
following formula muttered over a glass of brandy : 

Jeg red mig engang igjennem et Led, I once was riding through a gate, 
Saa fik min sorte Fole Vred ; When my black colt got a sprain ; 

Saa satte jeg Kjbd mod Kjod og So I set flesh to flesh and blood to 

Blod mod Blod, blood, 

Saa blev min sorte Fole god. So my black colt got well. 

From Norway the horse-remedy most probably found its way to Shet 
land, where, " when a person has received a sprain, it is customary to apply 
to an individual practised in casting the wresting thread. This is a 
thread spun from black wool, on which are cast nine knots, and tied round 
a sprained leg or arm. During the time the operator is putting the 
thread round the affected limb, he says, but in such a tone of voice as 
not to be heard by the bystanders, nor even by the person operated 
upon : 

" The Lord rade, " Set joint to joint, 

And the foal slade ; Bone to bone, 

He lighted, And sinew to sinew. 

And he righted ; Heal in the Holy Ghost s name ! " 

In Sweden against the horse distemper, flog, we find 

Oden star pa borget, Odin stands on the mountain, 

han sporger efter sin fole, He inquires after his colt, 

floget har han fatt. He has got the flog. 

Spotta i din hand och i hans raun, Spit in thy hand and eke in his mouth, 

han skall fa hot i samma stund. He shall be cured in the same hour. 

See Jacob Grimm, Ueber zwei entdeckte Gedichte aus der Zeit des 
Deutschen Heidenthums, Berlin, 1812, 4to ; and Deutsche Mythologie, 
p. 1181 ; also Popular Rhymes, &c. of Scotland, by Robert Chambers, 
p. 37, Edinb. 1842. A similar formula is known in the Netherlands, but 
which Grimm was unable to give. An attempt by the present editor 
to procure it from Belgium has, he regrets to say, also proved unsuc 

1 Vaf>rudnism. 38. 


vokc him 1 . Niord, as we have already said, was born 
and bred in Vanaheim 2 . 

Frey (Freyr), a son of Niord and his sister 3 , was also 
bred in Vanaheim. He is beloved of all, and is one of the 
most renowned of the ^Esir. He presides over rain, and 
sunshine, and the fruits of the earth. He is to be invoked 
for good seasons and peace. He also presides over the 
wealth of men. He is the god of the year, and giver of 
cattle, and loosens the bonds of the captive 4 . In the 
beginning of time, Alfheim was given to him by the gods 
as tooth-money. He reigns over the Light-elves (Lios- 
alfar), who are more beauteous than the sun, while the 
Black or Dark-elves (Dockalfar), who are blacker than 
pitch, dwell in the bowels of the earth 5 . He is the foe 

1 Gylf. 23. Grimnisra. Str. 16. Skaldskap. 6. 

2 An aquatic plant (spongia marina) bears his name, viz. Niarftar vottr 
(Niord s glove), which is also consecrated both to Freyia and the Virgin 
Mary. This plant, as well as some kinds of orchis, in consequence of the 
hand-shaped form of their roots, are called Mary s hand, our Lady s hand, 
God s hand (Dan. Gudshaand). Grimm, D. M. p. 198. 

3 Adam of Bremen (De Situ Dania?), who calls him Fricco, thus speaks 
of the worship of Frey in Upsala : " Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens 
mortalibus ; cujus etiam simulacrum fingunt ingenti priapo ; si nuptiae 
celebrandse sunt, immolant Fricconi." 

4 Lokaglepsa, 37. 

5 The Elves (Alfar) of later times seem a sort of middle being between 
the Light and Dark Elves. They are fair and lively, but also bad and mis 
chievous. In some parts of Norway the peasants describe them as dimi 
nutive, naked boys with hats on. Traces of their dance are sometimes to 
be seen on the wet grass, especially on the banks of rivers. Their ex 
halation is injurious, and is called alfgust or elf blast, causing a swelling, 
which is easily contracted by too nearly approaching places where they 
have spat, &c. They have a predilection for certain spots, but particularly 
for large trees, which on that account the owners do not venture to med 
dle with, but look on them as something sacred, on which the weal or woe 
of the place depends. Certain diseases among their cattle are attributed 
to the Alfs, and are, therefore, called alf-ild (elf-fire) or alfskud (elf- 
shot). The Dark Elves (Dock-alfar) are often confounded with the Dwarfs, 
with whom they indeed seem identical, though they are distinguished in 
Odin s Ravens Song. The Norwegians also make a distinction between 


and slayer of Beli ; is owner of the ship Skidbladnir, and 
rides in a chariot drawn by the hog Gullinbursti (Gold- 
Dwarfs and Alfs, believing the former to live solitary and in quiet, while 
the latter love music and dancing. Faye, p. 48. 

The fairies (elves) of Scotland are precisely identical with the above. 
They are described as " a diminutive race of beings, of a mixed or rather 
dubious nature, capricious in their dispositions, and mischievous in their 
resentment. They inhabit the interior of green hills, chiefly those of a 
conical form, in Gaelic termed Siyhan, on which they lead their dances by 
moonlight ; impressing upon the surface the marks of circles, which some 
times appear yellow and blasted, sometimes of a deep green hue ; and 
within which it is dangerous to sleep, or to be found after sunset. Cattle, 
which are suddenly seized with the cramp, or some similar disorder, are 
said to be elf -shot" Scott s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, ii. 162, 
edit. 1821. 

Of the Swedish elves, Arndt gives us the following sketch : " Of giants 
and dwarfs, of the alp, of dragons that keep watch over treasures, they 
have the usual stories ; nor are the kindly elves forgotten. How often has 
my postillion, when he observed a circular mark in the dewy grass, ex 
claimed : See ! there the elves have been dancing ! These elf -dances 
play a great part in the spinning room. To those who at midnight happen 
to enter one of these circles, the elves become visible, and may then play 
all kinds of pranks with them ; though, in general, they are little, merry, 
harmless beings, both male and female. They often sit in small stones 
that are hollowed out in a circular form, and which are called alfquarnar 
(elf-querns or -millstones). Their voice is said to be soft like the air. If 
a loud cry is heard in the forest, it is that of the Skogsra (see vol. ii.), or 
spirit of the wood, which should be answered only by a He ! when it 
can do no harm." Reise durch Schweden, iii. 16. 

The elf-shot was known in this country in very remote times, as appears 
from the Anglo-Saxon incantation printed in Grimm, D. M. 1192 and 
in the Appendix to Kemble s Saxons in England (i. 530, sq.) : " Gif hit 
wgere esagescot, oftfte hit waere ylfa gescot." If it were an asir-shot or 
an elve .s-shot. On this subject Grimm says : " It is a very old belief, that 
dangerous arrows were shot by the elves from the air The thunder 
bolt is also called elf-shot, and in Scotland, a hard, sharp, wedge-shaped 
stone is known by the name of elf-arrow, elf-flint, elf-bolt, which it is 
supposed has been sent by the spirits." D. M. 429. See also the old Da 
nish ballad Elveskud, in which the elf-king s daughter strikes Sir Oluf 
between the shoulders, and causes his death. Danske Viser, i. 237 ; or 
the Engl. transl. in Jameson s Ballads, i. 219. 

The wives of the elves are called elliser. They are to be seen only in 
fine weather, and then in the <: elf-marshes," particularly in spots where 


bristle), or Slidmgtanni 1 . Frey s attendant is named 
Skirnir ; he has also Beyggvir and his wife Beyla in his 
service 2 . The Swedes were chiefly devoted to his wor 
ship 3 . 

Here may also be noticed the three sons of Forniot (the 
old Jute), viz. (Egir or Hler 4 (Hler) , the god of the ocean ; 
Logi 6 (flame or fire), and Kari (wind). (Egir s wife is 
Ran; they have nine daughters, whose names denote 
waves. His servants were Fimafeng (dextre, celeriter ac- 
quirens), who was slain by Loki, and Eldir. Ran takes in 

some one has met his death in an unfortunate manner. They sometimes 
scatter the hay about, sometimes dance. In front they appear as beau 
tiful women, but behind are deformed and ugly ; or, as they are described, 
" as hollow as a dough-trough." Thiele, i. 22, 167, edit. 1820; ii. 213, 
edit. 1843. 

The hole in wood, where a knot has been, is called in Scotland an elf- 
bore. A similar superstition prevails in Denmark and Norway. 

From Afzelius we learn that elf-altars still exist in Sweden, at which 
offerings are made for the sick. The elves are slender and delicate ; the 
young females are particularly beautiful. When, on a summer evening, 
the wanderer lies down to rest by an elf-mound (alfwehog) he hears the 
tones of their harp and their lively song. When an elf damsel wishes to 
unite herself with the human race, she flies with the sunbeam through 
some opening, as a knot-hole in the wainscot, etc. etc. Sago-Hafder, ii. 
150, 155. 

1 In the North a hog was offered to Frey as a sacrifice of atonement ; 
and in Sweden, until comparatively recent times, cakes in the form of a 
hog were baked every Christmas eve. Grimm, p. 45. In Denmark, even 
to the present day, the lower classes have roast pork for dinner on that 

2 Gylf. 17, 24, 49. p. 66. Skaldskap. 7. Grimnism. Str. 5. Skirnisfor. 
Lokaglepsa, Introd. Str. 36, 37, 44-46, 52, 56. 

3 See some further remarks on the worship of Frey in Kemble s Saxons 
in England, i. 355. 

4 Oegir and Hler were, no doubt, anciently considered as two, the 
former ruling over the stormy, the latter over the tranquil ocean. In Saxo 
also (p. 81) we find two dukes in Jutland, Eyr and Ler. 

5 On account of his lofty stature, Logi was called Halogi (High Logi). 
From him the most northern part of Norway has its name of Halogaland, 
or Helgeland. He was father to Thorgerd Holgabrud and Yrpa, concern 
ing whom see hereafter. 



her net those that perish at sea 1 . These divinities seem to 
have belonged to an older mythology, most probably that 
of the Fins 2 . 

TY, or TYR, is the boldest and stoutest of the ^Esir. It 
is he who gives victory in war, and should be invoked by 
warriors. It is a proverbial saying, that a man who sur 
passes others in valour is as bold as Ty. He is also so 
wise, that it is usual to say of a very sagacious man, he 
is as wise as Ty. He is, however, not considered as a 
settler of quarrels among people. Odin is his father 3 , but 
on his mother s side he is of giant race 4 . 

BRAGI is another of the .ZEsir. He is famed for wisdom 
and eloquence, and is profoundly skilled in the art of 
poetry, which from him is denominated bragr, and those 
who distinguish themselves above others in eloquence are 
called bragr-men, and bragr-women. He is upbraided by 
Loki for not being sufficiently warlike and doughty in 
battle. He has a long beard, and is a son of Odin 5 . 

HEIMDALL, though regarded as a Van, is nevertheless 
called a son of Odin. He is also called the White or 
Bright God, arid is a great and holy god. In the begin 
ning of time he was born, on the boundary of the earth, 
of nine giant maidens, who were sisters, and was nourished 
with the strength of the earth, and the cold sea. The 
nine maidens were named, Gialp, Greip, Elgia, Angeia, 
Ulfrun, Aurgiafa, Sindur, Atla, and Jarnsaxa. He drinks 

1 Lokaglepsa, Introd. Skaldskap, 25, 27, 33, 61. Hrafnag. OS. Str. 17. 
Hversu Noregr bygftist, c. 1. 

2 Forniot was known to the Anglo-Saxons, as appears from the name 
given by them to a plant : Forneotes folme (Forniot s hand). 

3 In the HymiskviSa he speaks of himself as a son of the giant Hymir. 
See hereafter. 

4 Gylf. 25. Skaldskap, 9. Hymiskv. Str. 4, 5, 7, 8, 10. The daphne 
mezereon (spurge laurel) bears his name Tyviftr (Dan Tysved). Th 
viola Martis is in Scotland called Tysfiola. 

5 Gylf. 26. Skaldskap. 10. Grimnism. Str. 44. Lokaglepsa, Str. 13. 


mead in his bright hall, Himinbiorg, by Bifrost, at the 
bridge head (briiarsporiSr), where the rainboAV reaches 
heaven. There he sits, as the watchman of the gods, at 
the end of heaven, to guard the bridge from the mountain- 
giants, where he is often wetted through with rain, or, as 
Loki expresses it, gets a wet back. He needs less sleep 
than a bird, hears the grass grow on the ground and the 
wool on the sheep, and sees, as well by night as by day, 
for a hundred miles around him. His horn Gioll (Giallar- 
horn) is hidden under the sacred tree Yggdrasil ; but 
when he blows it, its sound is heard through all worlds. 
HeimdalPs horse is named Gulltopp (Gold-mane). He is 
himself also called Hallinskeidi (Descending), and Gullin- 
tanni (Golden-tooth), because his teeth are of gold. The 
head is called HeimdalPs sword, because he was pierced 
through with a man s head 1 . He contended with Loki 
for the Brisinga-men, Freyia s ornament 2 . 

HOD (HODUR) is another of the ^Esir, and is said to be 
a son of Odin. He is blind, but exceedingly strong. The 
gods may well wish never to hear his name pronounced, 
for his deed 3 will be long remembered both by gods arid 

VIDAR is called the silent god. He is the son of Odin 
and the giantess Grid (GrrSr). He has a very thick shoe, 
that has been forming, from the beginning of time, of the 
thin shreds that are cut from shoes in shaping the toes or 
heels : therefore should every one cast away such shreds, 
who cares about rendering aid to the ^Esir 4 . In other 
places mention is made of his iron shoes, and in the Skalda 
he is called eiganda iarnskoss (owner of the iron shoe) : 

1 Skaldskap. 8. The myth to which this refers is lost. 

2 Gylf. 17, 27. Voluspa, Str. 31. Grimnism. Str. 13. Hamarsh. Str. 17. 
Lokaglepsa, Str. 43. Hyndlulj. Str. 34-36. Hrafnag. 0$. Str. 26. Skald 
skap. 8, 16, 69. 

3 His slaying of Baldur. Gylf. 28. Skaldskap. 13. 

4 The reason will appear hereafter. 


he is the strongest of the gods after Thor, and affords them 
aid in many difficulties. His abode, Landvidi (Landvijn), 
is thickly overgrown with brushwood and high grass 1 . 

VALI is a son of Odin and Rind. He is stout in battle, 
and an excellent archer 2 . 

ULL (ULLR) is the son of Sif and stepson of Thor. He 
is a good archer, and runs so rapidly on snow-shoes, that 
no one is a match for him. He is comely of aspect, and 
warlike in habit and manners. It is good to invoke him 
in single combats. His dwelling is Ydal (Ydalir) 3 . 

FORSETI, a son of Baldur and Nanna 4 , Nef s (Nep s) 
daughter, dwells in the heavenly mansion called Glitnir, 
which is supported on gold, and roofed with silver. He 
settles all quarrels, and neither gods nor men know any 
better judgements than his 5 . 

LOKI (AsA-LoKi or Lopt) is reckoned among the JSsir, 
and is styled the traducer of the gods, and a scandal to 
gods and men. His father is the giant Farbauti; his 
mother is Laufey (leafy-isle), or Nal (needle), and his 
brothers are Byleist and Helblindi 6 . He is comely of 

1 Gylf. 29, 51. Grimnism. Str. 17. Skaldskap. 11, 18, p. 113. 

2 Gylf. 30. Skaldskap. 12. 

3 Gylf. 31. Skaldskap. 14. Grimnism. Str. 5, 42. Vegtamskv. Str. 3. 

4 The inhabitants of Heligoland were especially devoted to the worship 
of Forseti, from whom the isle itself bore the name of Fosetisland, i. e. For- 
seti s land. It was held so sacred by the natives, and by mariners and pirates, 
that no one dared to touch any animal that grazed on it, nor even to draw 
water from the well unless in silence. Hence no doubt its appellation of 
Heilig (holy) land. Alcuin, in his Vita S. Willibrordi, gives an interest 
ing account of the saint s actions on the isle, on which he had been cast 
by a storm. The entire extract, as well as another from Adam of Bremen, 
De Situ Daniae, may be seen in Grimm, D. M. pp. 210, 211.; 

5 Gylf. 32. Grimnism. Str. 15. 

6 In Jutland the plant polytrichum commune is called Loki s oats. 
When there is a certain trembling or waving motion in the air, which be 
wilders and dazzles the sight, the Jutish peasants say that Lofci is sowing 
his oats. Blicher s Noveller, v. p. 77. Another plant, the rhinanthus 
cristagalli, or yellow rattle, is called Loki s purse. In the middle age, the 


aspect, but evil-minded, and very capricious. He is distin 
guished above others for guile and artifice, and has often 
brought the ^Esir into perilous plights, from which how 
ever he has extricated them by his cunning. His wife is 
named Sigyn, and their sons Nari or Narvi, and Vali or 
Ali. But Loki has also other children by Angurboda, a 
giantess from Jotunheim, viz. the Wolf Fenrir, the Jor- 
mungand or Midgard s Serpent, and Hel, the goddess of 
the dead. In the beginning of time, Odin and Loki were 
foster-brothers ; they had mingled blood together, on which 
account Odin would never hold a feast unless Loki were 
present. But Loki was afterwards, for eight years, down 
on earth, in the form of a cow, and as a woman, and there 
bore children. Burnt up in his innermost sense (seared up 
in mind), Loki found a half-burnt heart of a woman; then 
he became false and wicked, and thence came all unhap- 
piness on earth 1 . 

We meet also with the names of Meili, a son of Odin 
and brother of Thor; Nep or Nef (Nepr, Nefir), a son 
of Odin, and father of Nanna ; also Hildolf, a son of 
Odin 2 . 

THE GODDESSES. The chief goddess is FRiGG 3 , the 
wife of Odin. From them descend the race of ^Esir 4 . Her 

idea of the devil was applied to Loki, who sows weeds among the good 
seed. In the Thellemark in Norway he once took a child on his hack, and on 
setting it down, said, " So shalt thou sit till thou art a year old." Whence 
it comes that children have a hollow on each side of the hip, and cannot 
walk before the expiration of a year. When the fire makes a whining 
noise, it is said that Lokje (Loki) is beating his children. Faye, Norskc 
Sagn, p. 6. In Iceland the fiery, sulphureous ignis fatuus is called Loka- 
brenna (Lokii incendium), Loka daun is the Icelandic name of a fiery 
vapour. Grimm, D. M. pp. 221, 868. 

1 Gylf. 33, 34. Skaldskap. 16. Lokaglepsa, Str. 6, 9, 23. Hyndlulj. 
Str. 38. 

2 Harbarftslj. Str. 8, 9. 

3 Whether the sixth day of the week is named after her, or after the 
goddess Freyia, is very doubtful. 

4 Gylf. 9. Skaldskap. p. 211. 


habitation is Fensalir. She knows the destiny of men, al 
though she is silent thereon. During Odin s absence, she 
married his brothers Vili and Ve 1 . She is called Fior- 
gyn s daughter, Nanna s stepmother, Earth s, and Rind s 
and Gunnlod s, and Gerd s rival. She possesses a feather- 
garb, or falcon s plumage 2 . She is the goddess of mar 

In equal veneration is FREYIA held, the daughter of 
Niord and sister of Frey. From her descent she is called 
Vana-dis, or goddess of the Vanir. She dwells in Folkvang, 
her hall is called Sessrymnir (roomy-seated) ; and when 
she rides to battle, one half of the slain belong to her, the 
other to Odin ; hence her appellation of Valfreyia. She 
delights in love songs, and is to be prayed to in love 
matters. When she rides, her chariot is drawn by two cats. 
She owns the ornament called Brising, or Brisinga-men 3 . 

1 The story is thus told by Snorri. " Odin had two brothers, one 
named Ve the other Vilir, and these governed the realm in his absence. 
Once, when Odin had travelled far away, and had been so long absent 
that the /Esir despaired of his return, his brothers took on themselves to 
divide his possessions ; but of his wife, Frigg, they both took possession. 
Odin, however, returning shortly after, took back his wife." Ynglinga- 
saga, 3. For this unlucky affair she was afterwards jeeringly reproached 
by Loki .- " pegi J>u, Frigg ! J?u ert Fjorgyns maer, ok hefir ae vergjorn 
verlS ; er J?a Vea oc Vilja leztu )>er Vi>ris kvaen ! ba)>a i ba>m um-tekit." 
Lokaglepsa, 26. Saxo (p. 42) tells sad tales of Frigg, how she stripped 
her husband s statue of its gold, and demolished it, how she violated her 
conjugal fidelity, till Odin, provoked by the twofold injury, went into 
voluntary exile. 

2 Gylf. 20, 35. Skaldskap. 19. Lokaglepsa, Str. 26, 29. Ynglingas. c. 3. 

3 In the Saga Olafs Tryggvasonar, vol. ii. c. 17, ed. Skalholt (and re 
printed in Rask s edit, of Snorra Edda, p. 354) there is rather an awkward 
story of the manner in which Freyia became possessed of her ornament. 
Freyia, we are there told, was a mistress of Odin. Not far from the palace 
dwelt four dwarfs, whose names were Alfrig, Dvalin, Berling and Grer : 
they were skilful smiths. Looking one day into their stony dwelling, Freyia 
saw them at work on a beautiful golden necklace or collar, which she 
offered to buy, but which they refused to part with, except on conditions 
quite incompatible with the fidelity she owed to Odin, but to which she, 


Like Frigg, she possesses a falcon s plumage, and, like 
Frey, a hog named Gullinbursti, or Hildisvini (the swine 
of war), which the dwarfs Dain and Nabbi made for her, 
and whose golden bristles illumine the thickest darkness. 
After her name women of condition are called Fru (Dan. 
Frue, Ger. Frau). Freyia was married to Od (03r), and 
they had a daughter named Hnos, after whose name all 
precious things are called hnosir. Od forsook her, and 
went far away : she weeps for his absence, and her tears 
are red gold. She travelled among unknown people in 
search of him 1 . Freyia has many names, because she 

nevertheless, was tempted to accede. Thus the ornament became hers. 
By some means this transaction came to the knowledge of Loki, who told 
it to Odin. Odin commanded him to get possession of the ornament. 
This was no easy task, for no one could enter Freyia s bower without her 
consent. He went away whimpering, but most were glad on seeing him in 
such tribulation. When he came to the locked bower he could nowhere 
find an entrance, and it being cold weather he began to shiver. He then 
transformed himself to a fly, and tried every opening, but in vain ; there 
was nowhere air enough to enable him to get through (Loki requires air). 
At length he found a hole in the roof, but not bigger than the prick of a 
needle : through this he slipt. On his entrance he looked around to see 
if any one were awake, but all were buried in sleep. He peeped in at 
Freyia s bed, and saw that she had the ornament round her neck, but that 
the lock was on the side she lay on. He then transformed himself to a 
flea, placed himself on Freyia s cheek, and stung her so that she woke, 
but only turned herself round and slept again. He then laid aside his 
assumed form (ham), cautiously took the ornament, unlocked the bower, 
and took his prize to Odin. In the morning, on waking, Freyia seeing the 
door open without having been forced, and that her ornament is gone, in 
stantly understands the whole affair. Having dressed herself she repairs 
to Odin s hall, and upbraids him with having stolen her ornament, and 
insists on its restoration, which she finally obtains. 

This story, though probably based on some lost poem, is subsequent 
to the time of Christianity and of little value. Compare the Brisinga- 
men of Freyia with the op/zos and iceoros of Venus. In Beowulf (v. 2394, 
sq.} allusion is made to the " Brosinga-men," as belonging to Hermanrie, 
but the legend concerning it is no longer extant. See Kemble s edition, 
vol. ii. Appendix. 

1 Some traces of the myth of Freyia (under the name of Syr) and Od 

c 5 


assumed a new one among each people that she visited in 
her journeyings : hence she is called Mardoll, Horn, Gefn, 
and Syr l . 

Of NANNA, the wife of Baldur, mention will be made 

IDTJN (I)?unn, I]?ir$r), the wife of Bragi, and daughter 
of Ivald, keeps in her casket the apples of which the gods 
must eat, when they begin to grow old : they then again 
become young ; and this process will continue till the de 
struction of the gods, or Ragnarock. Her dwelling is in 
Brunnakr 2 . 

Sir, Thor s wife, mother of Ull and Thrud, has a noble 
head of hair 3 . Loki says there is but one who had un 
lawful intercourse with her, and that was the wily Loki 4 . 

SAGA dwells in Sockquabeck, over which the cool waves 
murmur. There she and Odin joyful drink each day from 
golden cups 5 . 

6 is a virgin, and is served by those that die vir- 

are to be found in the story of Syritha and Othar, given by Saxo (p. 330, 
sq.), though in almost every particular widely differing from the little 
that has been transmitted to us of that myth. The flower Freyju har 
(mpercilium Veneris] owes its northern appellation to the goddess. 

1 Gylf. 24, 35, 49, p. 66. Grimnism. Str. 14. Hyndlulj. Str. 7. Ha- 
marsh. Str. 3. 

- Gylf. 26. Hrafnag. 0$. Str. 6. Skaldskap. p. 121. 

3 See more about Sif s hair at p. 38. A plant (polytrichurn aureum) 
bears the name of Sifjar haddr (Sifte peplum). 

4 Skaldskap. 21. Lokaglepsa, Str. 54. 

5 Gylf. 35. Grimnism. Str. 7. 

f> Of Gefion, and the obligation under which the Danes lie to her, there 
is the following tradition. A king named Gylfi once reigned over the lands 
now called Sweden. Of him it is related that he gave a wandering woman, 
who had diverted him by her song, as much land as four oxen could 
plough in a day and a night. This woman was of the race of the <ssir, and 
named Gefiun. She took four oxen from the north, from Jotunheim, 
who were her own sons by a Jotun, and set them before the plough, which 
penetrated so deeply that it loosened a part of the land, which the oxen 
drew out to sea westwards, until they stopt in a certain sound, where 
Gefum fixed the land, and gave it the name of Saelund. "Where the land 


gins. She knows the decrees of fate as well as Odin him 
self. Loki upbraids her with being infatuated with the 
fair youth that gave her a necklace, and with yielding to 
his embraces l . 

EIR is the best leech. FULLA is a maiden with dishevelled 
hair and a golden band round her head 2 . She bears 
Frigg s casket, has charge of her foot -covering, and knows 
her secret council. GNA rides through the air and over 
the sea, on Frigg s messages, on the horse Hofvarpmr. 
Once, as she was riding, some Vanir saw her in the air, 
one of whom said, 

What flies there ? 

what goes there ? 

or is borne in air ? 
She answered, 

I fly not, 

though I go, 

and am borne in air, 

on Hofvarpnir, 

that Hamskerpir 

got by Gardarofa. 

HLIN guards those whom Frigg is desirous of freeing 
from peril. SIOFN inclines the mind of both sexes to love : 
from her name a lover is called siafni. LOFN is kind and 
good to those that invoke her : she has permission from 
All-father or Frigg to unite those who love each other, what 
ever hindrances or difficulties may stand in the way. From 
her name is derived the word lof (praise, leave), because 
she is greatly praised by men. VO R hears the oaths and 
vows of lovers, and punishes those who break them. She 

was ploughed up a lake formed itself, called in Sweden Laugr, now the 
Malar lake. And the bays and creeks in the lake correspond to the pro 
montories of Seeland. Snorra Edda, p. 1. Thiele, Danske Folksagn, i. 1. 
The above is not contained in the Upsala MS. of Snorri s Edda, which is 
the oldest copy known. 

1 Gylf. 35. Lokaglepsa, Str. 20, 21. 

2 Hofu Sband Fullu (Fulla s head-band) is a periphrasis for gold. 


is wise, and hears of everything, so that nothing can be 
hidden from her. SYN guards the door of the hall, and 
locks it against those that may not enter. She is ap 
pointed as the defender in courts of those causes which 
it is endeavoured to defeat by falsehood. SNOTRA is saga 
cious and of elegant manners. From her name a man or 
woman of sagacity is said to be snotr. SOL and BIL ] are 
also reckoned among the goddesses ; also EARTH, the 
mother of Thor, and RIND, the mother of Vali 2 . 

OF ODIN S HORSE SLEIPNIR. Odin had a horse named 
Sleipnir, that was the most excellent of horses. The fol 
lowing account is given of his origin. In the beginning 
of time, when the gods had founded Midgard and Valhall, 
there came a builder from Jotunheim, who promised to 
construct for them, in three half-years, so strong a fast 
ness, that neither the mountain-giants nor the frost- 
giants should be able to take it, even though they were to 
come over Midgard, if in recompense they would give him 
Freyia together with the sun and moon. The gods acqui 
esced in his demand, provided he completed the work in 
one winter ; but if on the first day of summer augfyt were 
wanting, or if he availed himself of any one s assistance, 
the bargain should be void. The builder hereupon prayed 
that he might be allowed to use his horse Svadilfori 
(SvaJ?ilfori), to which the ^Esir, by the advice of Loki, 
assented. He began his work on the first day of winter, 
and during the night his horse dragged the stones. The 
/Esir were amazed at the immense size of the stones 
brought by the horse, which performed more work by half 
than the builder himself; but there were witnesses to the 
bargain, and many oaths taken ; for the giant would not 
have deemed it safe to be among the ^Esir without such 
security, especially if Thor should return, who was then 
absent in the eastern parts, on an expedition against the 
1 See page 6. 2 Gylf< 35) 36 


trolls (demons). When the winter drew near to a close, 
the fortification was far advanced, and was so high and 
strong that it was secure from assault. When three days 
only were wanting to summer, the gateway was all that 
remained to be completed. Hereupon the gods assem 
bled, and deliberated, and inquired whence the counsel 
came, to give Freyia in marriage in Jotunheim, and spoil 
air and heaven by taking away the sun and moon and 
giving them to a giant. It was agreed that such advice 
could come from no one but Loki, the son of Laufey, the 
author of so much mischief, whom they accordingly 
threatened with an ignominious death, if he did not de 
vise some means of annulling the contract. Loki was 
now terrified, and swore that the builder should get no 
payment. In the evening, when the latter was gone with 
his horse to fetch stones, a mare came running out of the 
wood to the horse, and neighed : the horse hereupon be 
came restive, broke his rein, and ran after the mare into 
the wood, and the giant after the horse; and they ran 
during the whole night. When the builder saw that the 
work could not be finished in the time, he assumed his 
giant mood; but when the ^Esir found that he was a 
mountain-giant, they, regardless of their oaths, called 
Thor to their aid, who raising his hammer Miolnir, paid 
him therewith, instead of the sun and moon, not even 
allowing him to return and build in Jotunheim ; for at 
the first blow he crushed the giant s skull, and sent him 
to Niflheim. Loki, in his guise of a mare, had conceived 
by Svadilfori, and sometime after brought forth a gray 
colt with eight legs l : that was Sleipnir, Odin s horse, on 
which he rides over land and sea 2 . 

1 In Jnga BariSar s Saga, c. 20, Sleipnir has four legs only. Runes were 
inscribed on his teeth or rein. Brynh. Kv. i. 15. 

* Gylf. 42. Voluspa, Str. 29, 30. Grimnism. Str. 44. Hyndlulj. Str. 
37. Hervarars. c. 15. Volsungas. c. 13. 



ship was constructed in the beginning of time, by the 
dwarfs, sons of Ivaldi 2 , who made a present of it to Frey. 
It is the best and most curiously constructed of all ships, 
though Naglfar, belonging to Muspell, is the largest. 
But respecting this famous ship there is another story. 
Loki, out of mischief, once cut all Sif s hair off. When 
this came to the knowledge of Thor, he threatened to 
crush every bone in him, if he did not get the svart- 
elves to make her a head of hair of gold, that should 
grow like natural hair. Loki thereupon went to the sons 
of Ivaldi, who made the hair for him, together with the 
ship Skidbladnir, and the spear possessed by Odin, 

Loki afterwards wagered his head with the dwarf Brock, 
that the latter s brother Sindri (JEitri) was unable to make 
three such precious things. They then went to the smithy. 
Sindri laid a swine s skin on the fire, and desired Brock 
to blow until he took it from the forge. But while he 
was gone out, and Brock stood blowing, there came a 
gad-fly 3 , which settled on his hand and stung him. Brock, 
nevertheless, went on blowing until his brother returned 
and took what was forged from the fire. It was a hog 
with golden bristles. The smith then put gold into the fire, 
and desiring his brother to blow without intermission 
until he returned, went away. The gad-fly came again, 
fixed itself on his neck, and stung him twice as sorely as 
before ; but Brock continued blowing until the smith came 
back, and took from the fire the gold ring called Draupnir. 
The third time Sindri put iron into the fire, and exhorted 
his brother to blow without ceasing, for else all would be 

1 From ski$, a thin plank, and bla^S, a leaf, &c. 

2 This Ivaldi, the parent of certain dwarfs, is not to be confounded with 
the elf Ivald, the father of Idun. 

3 That is, Loki under the form of a gad-fly. 


spoiled. The gad-fly now took his post over Brock s eye, 
and stung his eyebrow ; and as the blood trickled down, 
so that he could not see, he raised his hand in haste, 
thereby causing the bellows for a moment to stand still, 
while he drove away the gad-fly. At this moment the 
smith returned, and said that what was in the fire had 
been nearly spoiled. On taking it forth, it proved to be 
a hammer. Sindri intrusted these things to his brother, 
saying, he could now go to Asgard and get the wager 
decided. Sindri and Loki now appearing, each with his 
treasures, the JSsir took their places on their judgement- 
seats, and it was agreed that whatever Odin, Thor, and 
Frey might decide should be valid. 

Loki made a present to Odin of the spear Gungnir, to 
Thor of the hair for Sif, to Frey of Skidbladnir, and, at 
the same time, explained the virtues of these presents : 
how the spear never failed to strike whatever it was aimed 
at; how the hair would grow rapidly as soon as it was 
placed on Sif s head ; and that Skidbladnir would always 
have a fair wind, when the sails were set, and was withal 
so capacious that it could contain all the gods with their 
weapons and armour, but, at the same time, contrived so 
ingeniously, and of so many pieces, that it might be folded 
up like a cloth and put into one s pocket. 

Now came Brock forwards with his wonderful handi 
works. To Odin he gave the ring, saying that every ninth 
night eight rings equally precious would drop from it. To 
Frey he gave the hog, adding that it could run more 
swiftly than any horse, on air and sea, and that even in 
the darkest night a sufficiency of light would shine from 
its bristles. To Thor he gave the hammer, and said that 
he might strike with it with all his might whatever object 
came before him, without receiving any hurt; however 
far he might cast it, he should never lose it, but that 
it would always return to his hand, and, whenever he 


wished it, would become so small that he might put it in 
his pocket : its only defect was, that the haft was rather 
short 1 . 

The judgement was, that the hammer was the best 
work of all, as they would find in it a powerful defence 
against the frost-giants; and that the dwarf had, conse 
quently, won the wager. Loki offered ransom for his 
head, but the dwarf rejected it. " Well, take me then," said 
Loki ; but when the dwarf would lay hands on him, he 
was already far away ; for he had on shoes with which he 
could run both on air and water. The dwarf then begged 
of Thor to take him, and he did so ; but when he was 
about to cut his head off, Loki told him that the head was 
his, but not the neck. The dwarf then took a thong and 
a knife, and would pierce holes in Loki s lips, in order to 
sew his mouth up ; but the knife would not cut. " It 
were well," said he, " if I now had my brother s awl," and 
the instant he named it, it was there. The awl did its 
duty, and with the thong, which was called Vartari, the 
dwarf stitched up the lips of Loki 2 . 

JEsir made peace with the Vanir, in token of amity, they 
mingled their saliva in a vessel. Of the contents of this 
vessel the gods created the man Kvasir. He was so wise 
that no one could ask him a question that he was unable 
to answer; and he travelled far and wide to impart his 
knowledge to mankind. Being invited to a feast by the 
dwarfs Fialar and Galar, they took him aside, under the pre 
text of a secret communication, and slew him. His blood 
they let run into two vessels, named Son and Bodn, 
and into the kettle Odhrserir (OShrserir). With the blood 
they mingled honey, and thus composed the mead which 
makes every one that partakes of it a skald or a wise man. 

1 Owing to the interruption caused by the gad-fly. 

2 Griranisra. Str. 43. Gylf. 43. Skaldskap. 35. 


To the ^Esir they said that Kvasir was drowned in his own 

These dwarfs afterwards invited to them a giant named 
Gilling, and his wife, and rowed out with him to sea ; but 
when they were some distance from land, they ran on a 
rock, and upset the boat, and Gilling, who could not swim, 
was drowned. Having set the boat right, they returned 
home. On relating to Gilling s wife what had befallen 
her husband, she was inconsolable, and wept bitterly. 
Fialar then asked her whether it would alleviate her sorrow 
to look on the sea where her husband had perished. She 
answered in the affirmative, when he desired his brother 
Galar to go up over the door, and as she was going out, 
to let a millstone fall on her head, as he could not endure 
her lamentations. The brother did as he was desired. 
When Suttung, the son of Gilling, was informed of what 
had taken place, he set out, seized the dwarfs, took them 
out to sea, and placed them on a rock that at high tide 
was under water. They prayed for their lives, and offered 
to give him, as blood-fine, the precious mead, which he 
accepted. Suttung then took the mead home, deposited 
it in the mountain Hnitbiorg, under the custody of his 
daughter Gunnlod. Hence it is that poetry is called 
Kvasir s blood, the drink of the dwarfs, Odhrserir s, or Son s, 
or Bodn s liquor, or the dwarfs passage-supply (because 
it supplied the means of saving their lives from the rock), 
or Suttung s mead, or Hnitbiorg s water. 

Odin being very desirous to obtain this mead, left home, 
and came to a place where nine thralls were cutting hay. 
He asked them whether he should whet their sithes. They 
thanked him for his offer, and taking a whetstone from his 
belt, he sharpened them so that they cut much better, and 
they wished to buy the stone. Odin then threw it up in 
the air, when in struggling to seize it, each turned his 
sithe on the neck of another. Odin sought shelter for the 


night at a giant s named Baugi, a brother of Suttung, who 
complained bitterly of the loss he had sustained, saying 
that his nine thralls had killed each other, and that he 
knew not whence he was to get labourers. Odin, who now 
called himself Bolverk, offered to perform the work of nine 
men, on condition of receiving in reward a drink of Sut- 
tung s mead. Baugi told him that he had no power over 
the mead, and added, that Suttung wished to have it all 
to himself ; but that he would go with Bolverk, and en 
deavour to get it. During summer he performed the work 
of nine men for Baugi, and when winter came, demanded 
his reward. They thereupon went to Suttung, whom 
Baugi informed of the agreement, but Suttung would not 
part with a drop of the mead. Bolverk then proposed that 
they should try some stratagem, if they could not other 
wise get at the mead ; to which proposal Baugi assented. 
Bolverk then produced the auger named Kati, and re 
quested Baugi, if the auger were sharp enough, to bore 
into the mountain. Baugi did so, and said that the moun 
tain was penetrated ; but when Bolverk blew into the hole, 
the dust made by the auger flew towards him, and he found 
that Baugi was deceiving him, and desired him to bore 
again. He bored, and when Bolverk again blew, the dust 
flew inwards. Bolverk now, assuming the form of a worm, 
crept in. Baugi made a stab after him with the auger, 
but missed him. Bolverk then went to the place where 
Gunnlod was, with whom he stayed three nights, and ob 
tained her permission to drink thrice of the mead. At the 
first draught he emptied Odhrserir ; at the second, Bodn ; 
and at the third, Son ; and thus drank up all the mead. 
Then assuming an eagle s garb, he flew away with all pos 
sible speed. But Suttung, who saw the eagle s flight, also 
took his eagle s plumage, and flew after him. When the 
JEsir saw Odin flying towards them, they set out vessels 
in the court, and on entering Asgard, he spat the mead 


into the vessels. But Suttung was then so close at his 
heels, that he nearly overtook him, thereby causing some 
of the mead to go in another direction ; but this not being 
noticed, every one partook of it that would. This is called 
the poetasters portion. Odin gave Suttung s mead to the 
^Esir, and to those who can compose good verses ; there 
fore is the skaldic art called Odin s booty, Odin s find, and 
his drink, and his gift, and the drink of the jEsir 1 . 

this subject there are two compositions, one in Ssemund s 
Edda (Hrafna-galdur OSins, or Odin s Ravens Song), 
further mention of which, on account of its obscurity, 
and consequent lack of interest to the general reader, is 
here omitted; the other is in Snorri s Edda, and is as 

The ^Esir, Odin, Loki and Hcenir, once set out from 
home, and took their way over mountains and desert places, 
where they suffered from want of food ; but on descending 
into a valley, they perceived a herd of oxen, one of which 
they slaughtered for the purpose of boiling it. When they 
thought it was done enough they looked at it, but it was 
not boiled through. Some time after, they looked at it 
again, and still it was not done. While talking the matter 
over, and wondering what could be its cause, they heard a 
voice above them, in the branches of an oak, and looking 
up, perceived an eagle of no small dimensions, which said 
to them, " If ye will give me a bellyful of the ox, it shall 
soon be boiled." They promised that they would ; where 
upon the eagle descended from the tree, placed himself on 
the boiled carcase, and forthwith snatched up, for his part, 
one of the thighs and both shoulders. Seeing this, Loki 
waxed wroth, and seizing a huge pole, thrust it with all 
his might at the eagle, which nevertheless effected its 

1 Braganeftur, 57, 58. Havam. Str. 14, 15, 106-112. RunatalsK 0$. 


escape, and flew up, with one end of the pole hanging in 
its body, and the hand of Loki fast to the other. As the 
eagle flew, Loki s feet were dragged over stones, hillocks 
and trees, and he thought his arm would be torn from his 
shoulder. He screamed and prayed for mercy, but was 
told by the eagle that he should not be loosed until he 
had sworn to bring Idun with her apples out of Asgard. 
Loki having sworn, was released accordingly, and with his 
companions returned to Asgard. 

On a certain time, he told Idun, that in a wood just 
without Asgard he had found some splendid apples, and 
so enticed her out, bidding her to take her own with her, for 
the sake of comparing them. Then came the giant Thiassi 
in his eagle s plumage (for he was the eagle), seized Idun, 
and flew with her to his home. But it fared badly with 
the ^Esir while Idun was absent ; they quickly grew gray 
and old. Thereupon they held a meeting, and inquired 
one of another, who had seen her last, when it was found 
that she went out of Asgard with Loki. Loki was now 
seized, and brought to the meeting, and threatened with 
torments and death, if he did not bring Idun back from 
Jotunheim. Terrified at their threats, he engaged to bring 
her back, provided Freyia would lend him her falcon s 
plumage ; having obtained which, he flew northwards to 
Jotunheim, and reached the abode of the giant, where he 
found Idun alone, Thiassi being gone out to sea. Loki 
transformed her into a nut, took her in his talons, and 
hastily flew away. Thiassi on his return home missing 
her, took his eagle s plumage and flew after Loki, and had 
nearly caught him ; but the ^Esir seeing the falcon with 
the nut in his talons, and the eagle closely following, went 
to the wall of the city, carrying with them loads of chips, 
to which, as soon as the falcon entered and had glided 
down within the wall, they set fire ; so that the eagle, un 
able to check his rapid flight, burned his wings, and being 


thus disabled was slain by the ^Esir. Of Thiassi we are 
besides told that his father s name was Olvaldi, who pos 
sessed much gold. His sons, Thiassi, Idi, and Gang, shared 
the inheritance among them, by each in his turn taking a 
mouthful 1 . 

OF NIORD (NioRjm) AND SKADI (SKA]?I). Skadi, the 
daughter of Thiassi, took helm and corselet, and went fully 
armed to Asgard, to avenge the death of her father. The 
JSsir offered her peace and compensation, and granted her 
permission to choose herself a husband among them, 
though under the condition that she should see their feet 
only. She accordingly went round among them, saw a 
pair of handsome feet, and said, " This one I choose ; few 
blemishes are to be found in Baldur." She had, neverthe 
less, made a mistake, for the feet belonged to Niord of 
Noatun. Another article of peace was, that one of the 
JEisir should cause her to laugh, a task successfully per 
formed by Loki, who played some ludicrous antics with a 
goat. It is further related, that Odin (or Thor) took 
Thiassi s eyes, cast them up to the heavens, and formed of 
them two stars. Niord married Skadi, but dissension 
soon sprang up between them; for Skadi would dwell 
among the mountains, in her father s abode, Thrymheim, 
while Niord liked to be near the sea. At length it was 
agreed, that they should stay alternately nine days in 
Thrymheim, and three in Noatun 2 . But when Niord re 
turned from the mountains to his Noatun, he said : 

Loathsome are the hills ; 
long seem d to me 
nine nights only. 
The noise of wolves 
sounded ill, compared 
with the swan s song. 

1 Bragaraeftur, 56. Hyndlulj. Str. 29. 

2 Or, according to another MS., " and another nine in Noatun/ 


But Skadi answered, 

Sleep I got not 

by the sea-waves, 

for wail of birds 

from the wood coming ; 

the sea-mew me each morn 

with its scream waked 1 . 

She then went up into the mountain, and abode in Thrym- 
heim, where she runs on snow-skates, and shoots wild beasts 
with her bow ; hence she is called Ondurgud or Ondurdis 
(the goddess of snow-skates). " From her habitation and 
fields ever come cold (pernicious) counsels to Loki," who 
had been foremost in causing her father s death 2 . 

OF FREY AND GERD (GER]?R). Frey had one day seated 
himself in Hlidskialf, and was looking over all the worlds, 
when on turning to Jotunheim, he there cast his eyes on 
Gerd, a beautiful maiden, the daughter of Gymir and Aur- 
boda, relations of Thiassi, as she was going from her 
father s hall to her maiden-bower. On raising her arms to 
open the door, both air and water gave such a reflection 
that the whole world was illumined. Frey descended from 
Hlidskialf with a heart full of love and care, went home, 
spoke not, drank not, slept not, nor did any one venture 
to speak to him. This penalty Frey brought on himself, 
for having presumed to sit in Odin s sacred seat. On 
seeing him in this state, Niord, his father, sent for Skir- 
nir, Frey s attendant 3 , and bade him go to his son and 

1 See in Saxo (p. 53) the Song of Hading and Regnild, beginning 
Hading loq. Quid moror in latebris opacis, 

Collibus implicitus scruposis, &c. 

To which Regnild answers, 

Me canorus angit ales immorantem littori 
Et soporis indigentem garriendo concitat, &c. 

The whole story of Hading and Regnild bears a striking resemblance to 

the myth of Niord and Skadi. 

2 BragaraeSur, 56. Gylf. 23. Grimnism. Str. 11. Harbarftslj. Str. 19. 
Lokaglepsa, Str. 50, 51. 3 Skosveinn, shoe-boy. 


inquire what had so disturbed his temper. Skirnir went 
accordingly, and asked his master, why he sat all day alone 
in the great halls. " How," answered Frey, " shall I de 
scribe my affliction to thee ? The elves illuminator (the 
sun) shines every day, but never to my pleasure." " Con 
fide to me thy sorrow," said Skirnir ; at the beginning 
of time we lived young together, and we ought to have 
confidence in each other." Frey now recounted to him 
how he had seen, in Gymir s mansion, the maid with the 
bright arms; that he loved her more fervently than a 
youth loves in the spring of his days ; but that neither 
^Esir nor Alfar would permit them to come together. 
"Give me but thy swift courser," said Skirnir, " which 
can bear me through murky flames, and thy sword, which 
fells of itself the giant race, when he is stout who wields 
it." Then rode Skirnir, and said to the horse : " Dark it 
is without, it is time for us to go over hoar mountains, 
amid giant folk; we shall both return, or that mighty 
giant will take us both." And Skirnir rode to Jotunheim, 
to Gymir s mansion, where he found fierce dogs chained 
at the gate of the enclosure. He rode up to a herdsman 
who was sitting on a hillock, and asked him how he could 
pass by Gymir s dogs and get speech of the young maiden ? 
" Art thou doomed to death, or art thou a spectre ? never 
wilt thou get speech of Gymir s good daughter." To this 
answer of the herdsman Skirnir replied, " There is a better 
choice than to sob for him who voluntarily meets death ; 
my life was decreed to one day only, and my days deter 
mined by fate." But Gerd hears the stranger and says, 
" What noise of noises do T hear in our halls ? The earth 
shakes with it, and all Gymir s courts tremble." Her 
waiting-maid answers, " Here is a man without descended 
from his horse, which he lets graze." " Bid him," said 
Gerd, " enter our hall and drink the bright mead, though 
I fear that my brother s slayer stands without." On his 


entrance Gerd says, "Which of the Alfar s, or of tne 
jEsir s or the wise Vanir s sons art thou ? Why comest 
thou alone over raging flames l to see our halls ?" Skirnir 
then declares his errand. For a long time she withstood 
his prayer, that she would dwell with Frey. He promised 
her eleven golden apples, in reward for her love, but she 
would not accept them. He promised to give her the ring 
Draupnir, which had been laid on the pile with Odin s 
young son Baldur, but she declined it, saying that she 
lacked not gold in her father s house. He threatened to 
strike off her head, with the bright sword that he held in 
his hand, under which even the old giant her father must 
sink ; to strike her with the taming wand ; that she should 
go where the sons of men would never see her more \ 
should pass her life on the eagle s mount, turned from the 
world towards Hel, and food should be more loathsome 
to her than Midgard s serpent 2 to the sons of men ; that 
when she comes out she should be a spectacle at which 
Hrlmnir and all beings would stare, a monster set forth 
for mockery and scorn. " Sit," said he, " and I will an 
nounce to thee a dire flood of bitterness, and double mi 
sery. Terrors shall beset thee all the day in the giants 
dwellings ; each day shalt thou wander about without joy ; 
weeping shall be thy lot, instead of pastime, and tears shall 
accompany thy pain. With a three-headed giant thou 
shalt drag out thy life, or die a maiden ; from morn to 
morn thy mind shall be in alarm, and thou shalt be as the 
thistle that withers on the house-top." Then swinging 
over her his magic wand, he pronounced the malediction, 
" Wroth with thee is Odin ! Wroth with thee is the ^Esir s 
prince ! Frey shall shun thee, thou evil maiden ! when 

1 See the account of Brynhild s bower in the story of the Volsungs here 
after ; also Fiblsvinnsmal, Str. 2. Such fiery fences round a borg seem to 
have been not unfrequent. 

2 Of this monster hereafter. 


thou art stricken by the vengeance of the gods. Hear it, 
giants ! Hear it, frost-giants, and sons of Suttung 1 , and 
ye, friends of the ^Esir 2 ! how I forbid and hinder thee 
from man s society ! Hrimgrimnir the giant is named 
that shall possess thee below in the barred dwelling of the 
dead, where misery s thralls shall give thee only goats 
water to drink. I cut for thee Thurs 3 , and three letters, 
feebleness, frenzy and impatience. I will cut them off 4 as 
I have cut them on : do thou only choose." Be thou 
greeted, youth \" said Gerd, " and in welcome take the icy 
cup filled with old mead ; although I never thought to feel 
well-disposed towards a man of the Vanir s race." She 
then promised to be with the son of Niord in nine days, 
in the warm wood of Barri. Skirnir rode home, and an 
nounced the happy result of his journey ; but full of de 
sire, Frey exclaimed, " One night is long, long are two ; 
how shall I endure three ? Oftentimes a month seems to 
me shorter than the half of such nights of desire." 

Frey having thus parted with his sword, was unarmed 
when he fought with Beli 5 , whom he slew with a stag s 
horn, although he could have killed him with his hand : 
but the time will come when the loss of his sword will cost 
him more dearly, when MuspelFs sons go forth to battle 6 . 

OF LORI S OFFSPRING. By Angurboda (Angrbofa), a 
giantess of Jotunheim, Loki had three children, viz. the 
wolf Fenrir, the Midgard s serpent or Jormungand, and 
Hel, the goddess of death. When the ^Esir discovered 
that these three were being bred up in Jotunheim, and 
called to mind the predictions, that they would prove a 

1 The dwarfs. 2 The elves. 

3 The name of one of the letters of the runic alphabet. 

4 " I will cut them off," that is, " I will, by erasing the runes, dissolve 
the spell," in the case of Gerd s compliance. 

5 The myth of Frey and Beli is lost. 

6 Gylf. 37. Skirnisfor, Lokaglepsa, Str. 42. Voluspa, Str. 54. Hynd- 
lulj. Str. 29. 


source of great calamity to them, there being much evil to 
expect from them on the mother s side, and still more on 
the father s, All-father sent the gods to fetch the chil 
dren. When they came, he cast the serpent into the deep 
ocean which surrounds all lands ; but there it grew and 
became so great that it encircles the whole world, and bites 
its own tail. From hence it heaves itself up with violence 
towards heaven, rises up on land, causes the air to tremble, 
and sends snow, and stormy winds, and pattering rain 
over the earth. Hel he cast down into Niflheim, and gave 
her authority over nine worlds, that she might assign their 
places to those who are sent to her, namely, all those that 
die of sickness or age. Her abode of vast extent is sur 
rounded by a high enclosure with large gates. Her hall 
is called Eliudnir (nimbos sive procellas late accipiens) ; 
her dish, Hungr (hunger) ; her knife, Sullt (starvation) ; 
her serving-man, Ganglati (slowly moving) ; her woman- 
servant, Ganglot (the same, but feminine) ; her threshold, 
Fallanda forat (perilous precipice) ; her bed, Kor (the bed 
of sickness) ; her curtains or hangings, Blikianda bol 
(splendid misery). She is half black, half flesh-coloured, 
and therefore easily recognised, and very fierce and grim 
of aspect. The wolf was bred up among the ^Esir ; but 
only Ty had the courage to give him food. When the 
gods saw how much he increased daily, and as all the 
predictions declared that he was destined to be their de 
struction, they resolved on having a very strong chain 
made for him, called Lseding (Lsejnngr), which they took 
to the wolf, that he might prove his strength on it. The 
wolf, to whom the chain did not appear over strong, let 
them do as they would; but the moment he stretched 
himself it brake, and he was again loose. They then 
made another chain half as strong again, called Dromi. 
This likewise the wolf was to try, they assuring him that 
he would be renowned for his strength, if so strong a bond 


could not confine him. The wolf saw plainly that this 
chain was exceedingly strong, but at the same time felt 
that his power was greatly increased since he brake the 
bond Lseding. It likewise occurred to him, that if he 
would become famous, he must expose himself to some 
risk. He therefore allowed them to fasten him with the 
chain. When the .ZEsir had chained him, the wolf shook 
himself, kicked, and dashed it on the earth, so that the 
fragments flew far away. Thus did he free himself from 
Dromi. It is since become a proverb, " to get loose from 
Lseding," or, " to burst out of Dromi/ when anything is 
to be done with great exertion. 

The ^Esir being now fearful that they would be unable 
to bind the wolf, sent Skirnir, Frey s messenger, to some 
dwarfs in Svart-Alfheim, and caused them to make the 
chain Gleipnir, which was composed of six materials, viz. 
the sound of a cat s footsteps, a woman s beard, the roots 
of a mountain, a bear s sinews, a fish s breath, and a bird s 
spittle. This chain was as soft and supple as a silken cord, 
though of exceedingly great strength. The gods then, 
taking the wolf with them, went to the isle of Lyngvi, in 
the lake Amsvartnir. There they showed him the bond, 
asking him whether he could snap it asunder, as it was 
somewhat stronger than, judging from its thickness, it ap 
peared to be. They then handed it from one to another, 
and tried to break it, but in vain : " but the wolf," said 
they, " could easily break it in pieces." The wolf an 
swered, " It does not seem to me that any great honour 
is to be gained by breaking so slender a thread, but as 
some cunning and deception may have been employed in 
making it appear so slight, it shall never come on my feet." 
The ^Esir said, that he might easily break a silken cord, 
having already snapt asunder such strong bonds of iron, 
and adding, " Even if thou canst not break it, thou hast 
nothing to fear from us, for we shall instantly release 

D 2 


thee." The wolf answered, " If ye bind me so fast that I 
cannot free myself again, I am well convinced that I shall 
wait long to be released by you : I am, therefore, not at 
all desirous to let the cord be fastened on me. But rather 
than that ye shall accuse me of want of courage, let one of 
you place his hand in my mouth as a pledge that there is 
no guile in the case." The gods now looked at one an 
other, but not one would put forth his hand. At length 
Ty stretched forth his right hand, and placed it within the 
jaws of the wolf. The wolf now began to struggle, and the 
more he strove to get loose, the more tightly did the bond 
bind him. Hereat they all set up a laugh, except Ty, 
who lost his hand for his rashness. When the Msir saw 
that the wolf was effectually bound, they took the end of 
the chain, called Gelgia, which was fastened to the bond, 
and drew it through a huge rock named Gioll, which they 
secured far down in the earth, and beat down still lower with 
a fragment of rock named Thviti. In his yawning jaws they 
stuck a sword, the hilt of which was driven into his lower 
jaw, while the point penetrated the upper one. He howls 
dreadfully, and the foam that issues from his mouth forms 
the river called Von ; whence he is also called Vanargand 
(Vanarganndr). There will he lie till Ragnarock l . 

Of Thor and his journeys there were many stories, of 
which the following are preserved. 

for his amusement had one day flown out in Frigg s fal 
con-plumage, and came to the mansion of Geirrod, where 
seeing a spacious hall, and prompted by curiosity, he 
perched himself, and peeped in at a window. Geirrod 
having caught a glimpse of him, ordered one of his people 
to catch and bring the bird to him ; but the man to whom 
the order was given found difficulty in clambering up 

1 Gylf. 34. Hyndlulj. Str. 37-39. Lokaglepsa, Str. 38. 

2 See a travestie of this story in Saxo, pp. 420-428. 


along the high wall, and Loki, who sat chuckling over the 
difficulties the man had to encounter, fancied he could fly 
away before he had surmounted them. So when at length 
the man made a grasp at him, Loki flapped his wings, in 
order to fly away ; but his feet having got entangled in 
something, he was caught and brought to the giant, who as 
soon as he looked at his eyes suspected that he was a man, 
and commanded him to speak ; but Loki was silent. The 
giant then locked him up in a chest, where he had to un 
dergo a fast of three months duration. At length the 
giant took him out, and again ordered him to speak, when 
Loki told him who he was ; and, to save his life, promised 
on oath that he would bring Thor thither, without either 
hammer or belt of power. Loki persuaded Thor to un 
dertake the journey. On their way they stopt at the 
giantess Grid s (Gri}?r), the mother of Vidar the Silent, 
who advised Thor to be on his guard against Geirrod, who 
was a crafty knave, with whom it was not desirable to have 
any intercourse. She at the same time lent him a belt of 
power, an iron glove, and her staff named Gridarvoll. 
Pursuing their journey, they came to the river Vimur, the 
greatest of all rivers, to cross which Thor girded himself 
with the belt, and supported himself against the stream 
on Grid s staff, while Loki took fast hold of the belt. On 
reaching the middle of the stream, they found it so greatly 
increased that the water washed over Thorns shoulders ; 
when, on looking up towards a part of the river between 
two steep rocks, he perceived Gialp, one of Geirrod s 
daughters, standing with a foot on each bank, and found 
that it was she who had caused the river to rise ; where 
upon, seizing a heavy stone, he cast it at her, saying, 
" The river must be stopt at its spring." At the same 
time wading towards the shore, he took hold of some sorb- 
bushes, and so got to land. Hence the proverb : " The 
sorb is Thorns salvation." When he came to Geirrod s, a 


lodging was assigned him in a chamber where there was 
only one chair; sitting on which, he found that the seat 
rose with him up to the roof, whereupon, placing Grid s 
staff against the rafters, and pressing against it with all 
his might, a loud crash was heard, accompanied by an 
appalling cry. Geirrdd s daughters, Gialp and Greip, were 
under the seat, and Thor had broken their backs. After 
this Geirrod invited Thor into his hall to play. Along 
one side of the hall were huge fires, from which, as Thor 
came just opposite to Geirrod, the latter, with a pair of 
tongs, snatched a red-hot iron wedge, and hurled it at 
Thor, who catching it with his iron glove cast it back. 
Geirrod took refuge behind an iron pillar, but Thor had 
hurled the wedge with such force, that it passed through 
the pillar, through Geirrod, through the wall, and deep 
into the earth without 1 . 

THE HAMMER FETCHED. Ving-Thor awoke and missed 
his hammer ; his beard shook, and his head trembled with 
rage. He made known his loss to Loki, and they went 
to Freyia s fair abode, to borrow her falcon -plumage. In 
this Loki flew to Jotunheim, and found the giant chieftain, 
Thrym, sitting on an eminence without his dwelling, plait 
ing a collar of gold for his dog, and smoothing the manes 
of his horses. " How fares it with the .ZEsir," said he, 
" and how with the Alfar ? Why comest thou alone to 
the giants land?" "Ill fares it with the JEsir, ill with 
the Alfar. Hast thou hidden Hlorridi s hammer?" an- 

1 Skaldskap. 18. According to the popular belief, the lightning is 
accompanied by a black bolt or projectile, which penetrates as far as the 
highest church steeple is long into the earth, but rises towards the sur 
face every time it thunders, and at the expiration of seven years again 
makes its appearance on the earth. Every house in which such a stone 
is preserved is secure from the effects of thunder-storms, on the approach 
of which it begins to sweat. Grimm, D. M. pp. 163-165. The same 
idea seems expressed by the myth that the hammer always returns to 
Thor s hand. See p. 39. 


swered Loki. " Yes," replied Thrym, " I have hidden it 
nine miles underground, and no one shall get it back, 
unless he brings me Freyia for a bride." Loki then flew 
back in his rustling plumage, with the giant s message, 
and informed Thor where the hammer was, and of the 
condition on which alone it could be recovered. On this 
they both went to the lovely Freyia, to whom they com 
municated the affair, and Loki said, " Adorn thyself then 
with a bridal veil, and we two will go together to Jotun- 
heim." But Freyia snorted with anger, so that the hall 
trembled under her, and her necklace, the Brisinga-men, 
snapt asunder, and she said, " I must, indeed, be very fond 
of men s society, if I went with thee to Jotunheim." All 
the JEsiY now held a meeting, and all the goddesses went 
to their rendezvous, to consult how the hammer should be 
recovered. Then said Heimdall the Wise, who as a Van 
saw well into the future, " Let us bind a bridal veil on 
Thor, and decorate him with the Brisinga-men ; let keys 
jingle at his side, female attire fall about his knees, pre 
cious stones adorn his breast, and an elegant head-dress 
his head." But Thor, the mighty god, answered, " The 
^Esir would jeer me, if I allowed myself to be dressed out 
in a bridal veil." Loki then represented to them that the 
giants would take up their abode in Asgard, if Thor did 
not fetch back his hammer. So they bound a bridal veil 
on Thor, and decorated him with the famed Brisinga-men, 
let keys jingle at his side, female attire fall about his 
knees, set precious stones on his breast, and an elegant 
head-dress on his head. Loki accompanied him as a 
waiting-maid. The goats ran, the mountains burst, the 
earth stood in a blaze, when Odin s son drove to Jotun- 
heim. Then said the giant chief, " Stand up, giants ! lay 
cushions on the benches, and lead to me Freyia as a bride. 
Let gold-horned cows and coal-black oxen be brought in 
multitudes to my dwelling. Of ornaments I have enough, 


enough of treasures l , Freyia alone was wanting to my 

Early in the evening the giants assembled, and the 
festivity began. Thor alone devoured an ox, eight salmon, 
and all the dainties that are offered to ladies ; to which, 
by way of slaking his thirst, he added three huge vessels 
of mead. In amazement Thrym exclaimed, "Never did 
I see a bride eat so voraciously, or drink so much mead." 
But the prudent waiting- maid said, " For eight nights 
and days Freyia has eaten nothing, so fervently did she 
long after Jotunheim." The giant then raised her veil, 
and bent forwards, with the intention of kissing his bride, 
but starting back in terror, rushed through the hall, ex 
claiming, " Why has Freyia so piercing a look ? Her eyes 
burn like fire." But the wily waiting-maid answered, 
" For eight nights and days Freyia has had no sleep, so 
fervently did she long after Jotunheim." Then came in 
the giant s unlucky sister, to ask for a bridal gift, and 
said, " Give me the rings of red gold from thy hand, if 
thou wilt gain my love and favour." Thrym then said, 
" Bring now the hammer in, to consecrate the bride ; lay 
Miolnir in the maiden s lap, and unite us in the name of 
Vor 2 ." But the heart of Hlorridi, the stalwart god, 
laughed in his breast, when he felt the hammer in his 
hand. First he slew Thrym, then the whole giant tribe ; 
and the giant s sister got gashes for skillings, and hammer- 
strokes for ruddy rings. And thus did Odin s son get 
his hammer again 3 . 

Or THOR AND UTGARDA-LoKi 4 . Once on a time Thor 

1 Indians, Greeks and Scandinavians have been accustomed to adorn 
the horns of cows with gilding. It has been remarked that even in recent 
times the practice is not quite obsolete in the North ; the ox that was 
given to the people at the coronation of Christian VII. having had gilded 
horns. F. Magnusen, Den ^Eldre Edda, ii. 124. 

2 See page 35. 3 Hamarsheimt. 
4 See a travestie of this story in Saxo, pp. 429, sq. 


drove out in his chariot with the goats, together with Asa- 
Loki, and in the evening they came to a countryman s 
house. The goats were killed and boiled, and Thor in 
vited the countryman and his wife, his son Thialfi, and his 
daughter Roskva to partake of the repast; and desired 
them to throw the bones into the goat-skins, which he 
had laid by the side of the hearth. But Thialfi broke a 
thigh-bone, in order to get at the marrow. Thor remained 
there during the night, rose at dawn, raised Miolnir on 
high, consecrated the goat-skins with it, and the goats 
sprang up, but one was lame of a hind-leg. He called to 
the countryman, who was ready to sink on seeing the 
angry brow of the god, and his knuckles white with 
clenching the haft of Miolnir. Both the man and his 
family sued for pardon, and offered to give all they pos 
sessed, in compensation for the misfortune. Thor seeing 
them thus terrified, mitigated his anger, and contented 
himself with taking Thialfi and Roskva as his servants, 
who attended him ever after. Leaving the goats behind, 
he resolved on proceeding eastward to Jotunheim, in the 
direction of the sea, which he crossed, accompanied by 
Loki, Thialfi, and Roskva. After travelling a short di 
stance they came to a vast forest, in which they journeyed 
the whole day till dark; Thialfi, who of all men was 
swiftest of foot, bearing Thor s wallet, though provisions 
to fill it were not easily to be had. Looking now on all 
sides for a place wherein to pass the night, they found a 
very spacious house, with a door at one end as broad as 
the house itself. They entered, and betook themselves to 
rest ; but at midnight the earth shook under them, and 
the house trembled. Thor arose and called to his com 
panions. Groping their way, they found a chamber on 
the right, which they entered, but Thor set himself in the 
door-way with hammer in hand. Those within were much 
terrified, for they heard a great din and crash. At dawn 

D 5 


Thor went out, and saw a man of gigantic stature lying 
close by in the forest : he was sleeping, and snored 
loudly. Thor, who could now understand whence the 
noise during the night proceeded, buckled his belt of 
power about him, by which his divine might was increased. 
At this moment the man awoke, and stood up. It is said 
that Thor did not venture to strike him with his hammer, 
but merely asked him his name. He was called Skrymir 
or Skrymnir. " I need not," said he, " inquire thy name, 
for I know thou art Asa-Thor ; but what hast thou done 
with my glove V At the same moment stooping down 
and taking up his glove. Thor then saw that the house 
in which they had passed the night was the glove, and 
the chamber its thumb. Skrymir then asked whether 
he might accompany them ; Thor answered in the affirma 
tive. Skrymir then untied his wallet, and began eating 
his breakfast, while Thor and his companions did the 
same, though -in another place. He then proposed that 
they should lay their provisions together, to which Thor 
also assented. Skrymir then put all the provisions into 
one bag, took it on his back, and walked stoutly on 
before them. Late in the evening Skrymir sought a 
resting-place for them under a large oak, saying that he 
would lie down and sleep : " But," added he, " do you take 
the wallet, and prepare your supper." Skrymir immedi 
ately began to sleep, and snored lustily. Thor now took 
the wallet to open it, and, incredible as it may seem, could 
not untie a single knot, nor make one strap looser than 
it was before. Seeing that all his exertions were fruitless, 
Thor grew angry, and grasping Miolnir with both hands, 
and advancing one foot, struck Skrymir, where he was 
lying, a blow on the head. At this Skrymir awoke, and 
asked whether a leaf had fallen on his head ? whether they 
had supped and were ready for bed ? Thor answered that 
they were then going to sleep. They went then under 


another oak. At midnight Thor heard Skrymir snoring 
so that it resounded like thunder through the forest. He 
arose and approached him, clenching his hammer with all 
his might, and struck him on the crown of the head, so 
that the hammer s head sank deep into his skull. Skrymir 
on this awoke, saying, " What is that ? Did an acorn fall 
on my head ? How goes it with thee, Thor ?" But Thor 
stept quickly back, saying he was just awake ; that as it 
was only midnight, they might sleep a while longer. He 
now thought that if he could only succeed in giving him 
a third blow, it was not probable he would ever see the 
light again; and lay watching until Skrymir had again 
fallen asleep. Towards daybreak, perceiving that the giant 
slept soundly, he arose, raised Miolnir with all his might, 
and struck Skrymir a blow on the temple, so that the 
hammer sank up to the haft. But Skrymir, raising himself 
and stroking his chin, said, "Are there any birds above 
me in the tree ? It seemed as I woke that a feather fell 
from the boughs on my head. Art thou awake, Thor ? 
It is now time to get up and dress yourselves, though you 
are not far from the city called Utgard (UtgarJ?r) . I have 
heard you chatting together, and saying that I was a man 
of no small stature ; but you will see men still taller, when 
you come to Utgard. I will give you a piece of good 
advice : do not make too much of yourselves, for the fol 
lowers of Utgarda-Loki will not feel inclined to endure 
big words from such mannikins. If you will take my 
advice, you will turn back, and that will, I think, be much 
better for you ; but if you are resolved on proceeding, keep 
in an eastward direction. My course lies northwards to 
the mountains yonder." Then swinging his wallet across 
his shoulders, Skrymir left them, and took the path lead 
ing into the forest ; and it has never been heard that the 
ir wished ever to meet with him again. 
Thor and his companions travelled till the hour of noon, 


when they saw before them a city, on a vast plain, so high 
that they had to bend back their necks in order to see to 
the top of it. The entrance was protected by a barred 
gate, which was locked. Thor endeavoured to open it, 
and failed ; but being desirous to enter, they crept through 
the bars, and so gained admission. Before them was a 
spacious hall with open door, into which they passed, 
where, on two benches, sat a company of men, most of 
them very gigantic. They then went before the king, 
Utgarda-Loki, and greeted him ; but he, just glancing at 
them, said with a contemptuous smile, " It is wearying to 
ask of travellers the particulars of a long journey ; but is 
my surmise correct that this little fellow is Auku-Thor ? 
though, perhaps, you are taller than you appear to be. 
What feats can you and your followers perform ? for no 
one is suffered here, who in one or other art or talent does 
not excel others." Then said Loki, who entered last, 
" One feat I can exhibit,, and which I am willing to per 
form forthwith, and that is that I can devour my food as 
expeditiously as any one." Utgarda-Loki answered, " That 
is certainly a notable feat, provided thou art able to per 
form it, and that we will put to the proof." He then 
called a man from the bench, by name Logi (name), and 
commanded him to try his power with Loki. A trough 
full of meat was then placed on the floor, at one end of 
which Loki seated himself, and Logi at the other. Each 
ate to the best of his ability, and they met in the middle 
of the trough. Loki had eaten all the meat from the 
bones, while Logi had swallowed down meat, and bones, 
and the trough into the bargain. All were, therefore, 
unanimous that Loki was the loser at this game. Utgarda- 
Loki then asked at what game that young man could play ? 
Thialfi answered, that he would try a race with any one 
that Utgarda-Loki might select. Utgarda-Loki said that 
that was a goodly craft, but added, that he must be very 


swift-footed if lie hoped to win at that game. He then 
rose and went out. Without on the plain there was a 
noble race-ground. Utgarda-Loki called to a young man 
named Hugi (thought), and ordered him to run a race with 
Thialfi. In the first run Hugi was so greatly ahead, that 
when he had reached the goal, he turned and came to 
meet Thialfi. " Thou must step out better than that," 
said Utgarda-Loki, " if thou wilt win ; though I must allow 
that no one has ever come here before more swift-footed 
than thou." They now tried a second race. When Hugi 
was at the goal and turned round, there was a long bow 
shot between him and Thialfi. " Thou art certainly a good 
runner," said Utgarda-Loki, " but thou wilt not, I think, 
gain the victory ; though that will be seen when thou hast 
tried the third course. They now ran the third time, and 
when Hugi had already reached the goal, Thialfi had not 
arrived at the middle of the course. All were now una 
nimous that these trials were quite sufficient. 

Utgarda-Loki now inquired of Thor what the perform 
ances were which he wished to exhibit before them, and 
which might justify the general report as to his great 
prowess. Thor answered that he would undertake to drink 
with any of his men. With this proposal Utgarda-Loki 
was content, and returning to the hall, ordered his cup 
bearer to bring the horn of atonement, or punishment, out 
of which his men were wont to drink, saying, " When any 
one empties this horn at one draught, we call it well 
drunk ; some empty it in two, but no one is so great a 
milksop that he cannot manage it in three." Thor looked 
at the horn, which did not appear to him particularly 
capacious, though it seemed rather long. Being very 
thirsty, he applied it to his mouth and took a long pull, 
thinking there would be no occasion for him to have re 
course to it more than once ; but on setting the horn down 
to see how much of the liquor had vanished., he found there 


was nearly as much in it as before. " Thou hast drunk 
some, but no great deal," said Utgarda-Loki. " I could 
not have believed it, had it been told me, that Asa-Thor 
was unable to drink more. I am sensible, however, that 
thou wilt drink it all at the second draught." Instead of 
answering, Thor set the horn to his mouth, resolved on 
taking a greater draught than before, but could not raise 
the tip of the horn so high as he wished, and on taking it 
from his mouth, it seemed to him that he had imbibed still 
less than at the first pull ; though now the horn was easy 
to carry without spilling. Utgarda-Loki then said, " How 
now, Thor, hast thou not left more than thou canst con 
veniently quaff off in one draught ? It appears to me that 
if thou art to empty the horn at the third pull, thou hast 
left for that the greatest portion. But thou wilt not be 
thought so great a man here with us as thou art said to 
be among the ^Esir, if thou dost not distinguish thyself 
more at other games than, as it seems to me, thou art 
likely to do at this." At this speech Thor waxed angry, 
raised the horn to his mouth and drank a third time with 
all his might, and as long as he was able ; but when he 
looked into the horn, he saw that a part only of its con 
tents had disappeared. He then put the horn aside and 
would have no more. "It is now pretty plain," said 
Utgarda-Loki, " that thou art not quite so mighty as we 
thought thee. Art thou inclined to try any other feats, 
for it is evident thou wilt not gain much at this." Thor 
answered, " I am willing to try another : though I wonder 
whether among the -ZEsir such draughts would be called 
little. But what feat hast thou now to propose ? " 
Utgarda-Loki answered, " It is what my youngsters here 
do and make nothing of; it is merely to lift my cat from 
the ground. I should not, however, have proposed such a 
feat to Asa-Thor, had I not seen that thou art by no means 
the man I imagined thee to be." A huge gray cat then came 


walking forth. Thor approaching it, took it under the 
belly and lifted it ; but the cat arched its back, and when 
Thor had raised it as high as he could, one foot only was 
off the ground, but further than this Thor could make no 
thing at that sport. " It is just as I foresaw it would be," 
said Utgarda-Loki ; te the cat is very large, and Thor is 
short and little compared with those present." " Little as 
I am," replied Thor, " I now challenge any one who likes 
to come forth and try a hug with me, now that I am 
angry." " There is no one here," said Utgarda-Loki, 
" who will not think it child s play to wrestle with thee ; 
but call in the old crone Elli (age), my foster-mother. She 
has iaid many a man on his mother earth, that did not 
appear weaker than Asa-Thor." The crone came in, and 
the game began; but the more he squeezed her in his 
arms the firmer she stood. She now endeavoured to trip 
him up ; Thor soon began to totter, and a hard struggle 
ensued. It had not, however, lasted long before Thor sank 
on one knee. Utgarda-Loki now approached, and bade 
them cease, adding that Thor needed not challenge any 
more of his people, and that night was drawing near. He 
then caused Thor and his companions to be seated, and 
they stayed the night over as welcome guests. 

The next morning at day-break the guests arose, and 
having dressed themselves, prepared for departure. Ut 
garda-Loki then came, and ordered a table to be set forth. 
There was no lack of hospitality with regard either to 
meat or drink. Having finished their repast, they betook 
themselves to their journey. Utgarda-Loki accompanied 
them out of the city, and at parting inquired of Thor how 
he thought his visit had come off, and whether he had met 
with any mightier men than himself ? Thor answered, that 
he could not but acknowledge that their mutual intercourse 
had greatly redounded to his discredit ; " and I know," 


added lie, " that you will call me a very insignificant per 
son, which vexes me exceedingly." 

Utgarda-Loki answered, " Now that thou art out of the 
city, I will tell thee the real state of the case, which, if I 
live and have power, thou never again shalt enter ; nor 
shouldst thou have entered it this time, had I previously 
known that thou hadst so great strength in thee, and 
wouldst have so nearly brought us to the verge of destruc 
tion. By magic alone I have deluded thee. When we 
first met in the forest, and thou wouldst unfasten the 
wallet, I had secured it with iron wire, which thou wast 
unable to undo. Thou didst then strike me thrice with 
thy hammer. The first blow was the least, and yet it 
would have caused my death, had it fallen on me. Thou 
sawest in my hall a rock with four square hollows in it, 
one of which was deeper than the others : these were the 
dints of thy hammer. I slipt the rock under the strokes 
without thy perceiving it. In like manner the sports were 
contrived, at which you contended with my people. With 
respect to the first, at which Loki proved his prowess, it 
was thus : Loki was certainly very hungry and ate vora 
ciously ; but he who was called Logi was fire, which con 
sumed both meat and trough. The Hugi, with whom 
Thialfi strove in running, was my thought, with which it 
was impossible for him to contend. When thou didst 
drink from the horn with, as it seemed, so little effect, 
thou didst in sooth perform a miracle, such as I never ima 
gined possible. The other end of the horn was out in the 
ocean, which thou didst not observe. When thou comest 
to the sea, thou wilt see how much it is diminished by thy 
draughts, which have caused what will now be called the 
ebb." Furthermore he said, " No less a feat does it seem 
to me when thou didst lift the cat; and, the sooth to say, 
all were terrified when they saw thee raise one of its feet 


from the ground. For it was not a cat, as thou didst 
imagine, it was in fact the Midgard s serpent, which en 
circles the whole world. It had barely length enough for 
its head and tail to touch, in its circle round the earth, and 
thou didst raise it so high that it almost reached heaven. 
Thy wrestling with Elli was also a great miracle ; for 
there never has been one, nor ever will be, if he be so old 
as to await Elli, that she will not cast to the earth. We 
must now part, and it will be best for both that thou dost 
not pay me a second visit. I can again protect my city 
by other spells, so that thou wilt never be able to effect 
aught against me." 

On hearing these words, Thor raised his hammer, but 
when about to hurl it, Utgarda-Loki was no longer to be 
seen ; and on turning towards the city, with the intention 
of destroying it, he saw a spacious and fair plain, but no 
city 1 . 

after his journey to Jotunheim, Thor, in the guise of a 
youth, departed from Midgard, and came one evening to 
a giant s named Hymir, where he passed the night. At 
dawn the giant rose, dressed himself, and made ready to 
row out to sea and fish. Thor also rose, dressed himself 
in haste, and begged of Hymir that he might accompany 
him. But Hymir answered, that he would be of little or 
no use to him, as he was so diminutive and young ; " and," 
added he, " thou wilt die of cold, if I row out as far and 
stay as long as I am wont to do." Thor told him that he 
could row well, and that it was far from certain which of 
the two would first desire to reach land again. He was, 
moreover, so angry with the giant, that he almost longed 
to give him a taste of the hammer ; he, however, suppressed 
his wrath, intending to prove his strength in some other 

1 Gylf. 45-47. Lokaglepsa, Str. 59, 60, 62. Hymiskv. Str. 37. Har- 
barftslj. Str. 26. 


way. He then asked Hymir, what they should have for a 
bait, and received for answer, that he might provide one 
for himself; whereupon Thor, seeing a herd of oxen be 
longing to Hymir, wrung off the head of the largest, 
named Himinbriot, and took it with him down to the sea. 
Hymir had already launched his boat. Thor stept on 
board, placed himself abaft, and rowed so that Hymir was 
compelled to acknowledge that they were making a rapid 
course. Hymir at the same time rowed at the prow ; and 
it was not long ere he said they were now come to the 
place where he was accustomed to catch flat-fish. But 
Thor was desirous of going still farther out, and they rowed 
a good way farther. Hymir then said, they were now 
come so far that it would be dangerous to remain there, on 
account of the Midgard s serpent ; but Thor answered that 
he would row a while longer, and he did so. Then laying 
his oars aside, he attached a very strong hook to an equally 
strong line, fixed the ox s head on, as a bait, and cast it 
out. It must be confessed that Thor here tricked the 
Midgard s serpent no less than Utgarda-Loki had deceived 
him, when with his hand he undertook to lift the cat. 
Midgard s serpent gaped at the bait, and so got the hook 
into his jaw, of which he was no sooner sensible than he 
struggled so that Thorns hands were dashed on the side of 
the boat. Thor now waxed angry, assumed his divine 
strength, and resisted with such firmness, that his legs 
went through the boat, and he rested on the bottom of 
the sea. He then hauled the serpent up to the boat s edge. 
Dreadful it was to behold, how Thor cast his fiery looks 
on the serpent, and how the serpent glared on him and 
spat forth venom. Hymir changed* colour and grew pale 
with terror, when he saw the serpent, and the water stream 
ing into the boat ; and as Thor was swinging his hammer, 
the giant in his trepidation drew forth his knife, and cut 
the line, and the serpent sank down into the ocean. Thor 


hurled his hammer after it, and, it is said, struck off its 
head; but it lives there still. He then applied his fists to 
the giant s head, so that he fell backwards overboard. 
Thor waded to land 1 . 

In an older story, this myth is combined with another, 
which is as follows. The gods visited the giant Oegir, the 
god of the sea, but he was in want of a kettle to brew 
beer in for them, and not one among them knew how to 
procure one, until Ty said to Thor, that his father Hymir, 
who dwelt to the east of Elivagar, at the end of heaven, 
had a very capacious kettle, a mile deep. Thereupon Thor 
and Ty went to Hymir s dwelling, where the first person 
they met with was Ty s grandmother, a horrible giantess 
with nine hundred heads : but afterwards there came forth 
another woman radiant with gold and light-browed. This 
was Ty s mother, who proffered them drink, and wished 
to hide them under the kettles in the hall, on account of 
Hymir, who often received his guests with grudge, and 
was given to anger. Hymir returned late from the chase, 
and came into the hall : the ice-bergs resounded with his 
steps, and a hard-frozen wood stood on his cheek. The 
woman announced to him that his son, whose coming they 
had long wished for, was arrived, but accompanied by their 
declared enemy, and that they were standing concealed 
behind a pillar in the hall. At a glance from the giant 
the pillar burst asunder, and the cross-beam was snapt in 
two, so that eight kettles fell down, of which one only was 
so firmly fabricated that it remained whole. Both guests 
now came forth, and Hymir eyed Thor with a suspicious 
look; he anticipated no good when he saw the giants 
enemy standing on his floor. In the meanwhile three oxen 
were cooked, of which Thor alone ate two. At Thor s in 
ordinate voracity Hymir naturally felt alarmed, and very 
plainly told him that the three must another evening be 
1 Gylf. 48. 


content with living on what they could catch : so the next 
day they rowed out to fish, Thor providing the bait, as we 
have seen in the foregoing narrative. They rowed to the 
spot where Hymir was accustomed to catch whales, but 
Thor rowed out still farther. Hymir caught two whales 
at one haul, but the Midgard s serpent took Thor s bait. 
Having drawn the venomous monster up to the boat s 
edge, he struck its mountain- high head with his hammer ; 
whereupon the rocks burst, it thundered through the ca 
verns, old mother earth all shrank, even the fishes sought 
the bottom of the ocean ; but the serpent sank back into 
the sea. Ill at ease and silent, Hymir returned home, and 
Thor carried the boat, together with the water it had shipt, 
bucket and oars, on his shoulders, back to the hall. The 
giant continued in his sullen mood, and said to Thor, that 
though he could row well, he had not strength enough to 
break his cup. Thor took the cup in his hand, and cast 
it against an upright stone, but the stone was shattered in 
pieces ; he dashed it against the pillars of the hall, but the 
cup was entire when brought back to Hymir. The beau 
tiful woman then whispered good advice in Thor s ear : 
te Cast it against Hymir s own forehead, which is harder 
than any cup." Thor then raising himself on his knee 
assumed his divine strength, and hurled the vessel against 
the giant s forehead. The old man s forehead remained 
sound as before, but the wine-cup was shivered in pieces. 
"Well done/ exclaimed Hymir, " thou must now try 
whether thou canst carry the beer-vessel out of my hall." 
Ty made two attempts to lift it, but the kettle remained 
stationary. Thor then grasped it by the rim, his feet 
stamped through the floor of the hall, he lifted the kettle 
on his head, and its rings rang at his feet. He then 
started off with the kettle, and they journeyed long before 
he looked back, when he saw a host of many-headed giants 
swarming forth from the caverns with Hymir. Lifting 


then the kettle from his head, he swang Miolnir, and 
crushed all the mountain- giants. Thus did the stout Thor 
bring to the assembly of the gods Hymir s kettle; so 
that they can now hold their feast with Oegir at flax-har 
vest 1 . 

There was a feast also given by Oegir to the gods, at 
which Loki ridiculed and reviled all the principal guests, 
and which forms the subject of an entire eddaic poem. 
On the above occasion, Oegir s hall was lighted with shi 
ning gold 2 . 

upon a time riding on his horse Sleipnir to Jotunheim, 
came to the giant Hrungnir s. Hrungnir asked who he 
was with a golden helmet, who rode through air and 
water ? " Thine must," added he, " be a most powerful 
and excellent horse." Odin answered, that he would 
pledge his head that his horse s match was not to be found 
in Jotunheim. Hrungnir was, however, of opinion that 
his horse Gullfaxi (golden-mane) was far superior; and 
springing on it in anger, he rode after Odin, with the in 
tention of paying him for his presumptuous words. Odin 
galloped at full speed, but Hrungnir followed him with 
such giant impetuosity, that before he was aware of it, he 
found himself within the barred inclosure of the ^Esir. 
On reaching the gate of their hall, the ^Esir invited him 
in to drink, and set before him the cups out of which 
Thor was wont to quaff. He drank of them all, became 
intoxicated, and threatened to take Valhall and carry it to 
Jotunheim, to sack Asgard and slay all the gods, except 
Freyia and Sif, whom he would take home with him. 
Freyia alone ventured to fill for him, and it appeared that 
he was well disposed to drink all the ^E sir s beer. The 

1 HymiskviSa. The last line of this poem is very obscure ; the mean 
ing may be, that Oegir had now got a kettle, in which he could prepare 
arm beer for the gods. 2 Lokaglepsa . 


IY, who wished to hear no more of his idle vaunt, called 
for Thor, who came, raised his hammer, and asked who 
gave that insolent giant permission to be in Valhall, and 
why Freyia was filling for him, as at a festival of the ^Esir ? 
Hrungnir, looking not very benignantly on Thor, an 
swered, that he came on the invitation of Odin, and was 
under his protection. Thor replied, that he should repent 
the invitation before his departure. Hrungnir then said, 
that Thor would gain but little honour in slaying him 
there, where he was without weapons; he would show 
more valour by meeting him in single combat on the fron 
tier of the country at Griotuna-gard. " It was/ added 
he, " a great folly of me that I left my shield and stone 
club at home. Had I my arms with me, we would in 
stantly engage in combat : but as it is otherwise, I pro 
claim thee a coward, if thou slayest me unarmed." Thor, 
who had never before been challenged by any one, would 
on no account decline the meeting. When Hrungnir re 
turned to Jotunheim, the giants, to whom it was of vital 
importance which of the two should gain the victory, made 
a man of clay nine miles high, and three in breadth ; but 
they could find no fitting heart for him, till they took one 
from a mare, which did not, however, remain steady when 
Thor came. Hrungnir s heart was of hard stone, and 
triangular, like the magic sign called Hrungnir s heart. 
His head was likewise of stone, as was also his shield, and 
this he held before him, when he stood at Griotuna-gard, 
waiting for Thor, while his weapon, a formidable whet 
stone, or stone club, rested on his shoulder. At his side 
stood the man of clay, who was named Mockurkalfi, who 
was excessively terrified at the sight of Thor. Thor went 
to the combat attended by Thialfi, who running to the 
spot where Hrungnir was standing, exclaimed, " Thou art 
standing very heedlessly, giant ! Thou boldest the shield 
before thee, but Thor has observed thee, and will go down 


into the earth, that he may attack thee from beneath." 
On receiving this information, Hrungnir placed the shield 
under his feet, stood upon it, and grasped his club with 
both hands. He then saw lightning, and heard a loud 
crash of thunder, and was sensible of Thorns divine power, 
who was advancing in all his strength, and had cast his 
hammer from a distance. Hrungnir raising his club with 
both hands, hurled it against the hammer : the two met 
in the air, and the club was dashed in pieces, of which one 
portion fell on the earth, whence come all the whetstone 
mountains; while another fragment struck Thor on the 
head, causing him to fall on the earth. But Miolnir struck 
Hrungnir on the head, and crushed his skull : he fell for 
wards over Thor, so that his foot lay on Thor s neck. 
Thialfi fought with Mockurkalfi, who fell with little ho 
nour. Thialfi then went to Thor, and endeavoured to take 
HrungmV s foot from his neck, but was unable to move it. 
All the ^Esir came, when they heard that Thor had fallen, 
but they were equally powerless. At length came Magni, 
a son of Thor and Jarnsaxa, who, although he was only 
three days old 1 , cast Hrungnir s foot from his father s 
neck, and got from Thor in reward the horse Gullfaxi, 
which Odin took amiss, saying that so good a horse ought 
not to have been given to a giantess s son, but rather to 
himself. Thor went home to Thrudvang, but the stone 
remained fixed in his forehead. Then came a Vala (Volva) 
or prophetess, named Groa, the wife of Orvandil (Orvald), 
who sang incantations (galldrar) over him, so that the 
stone was loosed. In recompense, Thor would gladden 
her with the tidings that he had come from the north over 
Elivagar, and in an iron basket, had borne Orvandil from 
Jotunheim ; in token of which he related to her how one 
of OrvandiFs toes had protruded from the basket, and got 

1 Vali, in like manner, when only one day old, avenged the death of 
Baldur on Hod. See hereafter. 


frost-bitten, and that lie (Thor) had broken it off, and cast 
it up to heaven, and formed of it the star called Orvandil s 
toe. When Thor further informed her that Orvandil 
would soon return home, she was so overjoyed that she 
forgot to continue her incantations, so that the stone was 
not extracted, but still remains in Thor s forehead 1 . No 
one should, therefore, cast a whetstone across the floor, 
for then the stone in Thor s head is moved 2 . 

good Baldur had been troubled with sad and painful 
dreams that his life was in peril. The gods were exceed 
ingly distressed, and resolved to pray for Baldur s security 
against all possible danger; and his mother Frigg exacted 
an oath from fire, water, iron, and all kinds of metal, stone, 
earth, trees, diseases, beasts, birds, and venomous snakes, 
that they would not injure her son. When the gods had 
thus, as they imagined, rendered all safe, they were ac 
customed, by way of sport, to let Baldur stand forth at 
their assembly, for all the ^Esir to shoot at him with the 
bow, or to strike or throw stones at him, as nothing caused 
him any harm. This was considered a great honour shown 
to Baldur. Yet, notwithstanding these precautions, Odin, 
it appears, had misgivings that something wrong would 
take place, and that the Norns of happiness had secretly 
departed from them. To put an end to this painful state 
of anxiety, he resolved on a journey to the infernal abodes. 
He arose, placed the saddle on Sleipnir, and bent his way 
down to Niflhel (Niflheim), there to raise and interrogate 
a dead Vala, whose grave lay by the eastern gate of HePs 
abode. Here he was met by the fierce dog of Hel, with 
bloody breast and jaws, which bayed and howled terrifically; 
but Odin rode on until he reached the Vala s grave. Turn- 

1 It may here be observed that the Lapps represent Thor with a flint- 
stone in his forehead. 

2 Skaldskap. 17. HarbarSslj. Str. 15. Lokaglepsa, Str. 61. 


ing then his face to the north, he uttered those necro 
mantic songs which have power to wake the dead, until 
the Vala, raising herself reluctantly from the tomb, de 
manded what man it was that had thus ventured to dis 
turb her rest. In answer, Odin told her that his name 
was Vegtam, son of Valtam, and at the same time inquired 
of her, on what occasion the benches and gilded couches, 
which he perceived, were being prepared. She informed 
him, that it was in honour of Baldur, and desired to be 
no more questioned. Persisting in his inquiries, she goes 
on to tell him the whole manner of Baldur s death and 
the events immediately following, as they are here related ; 
and again deprecates all further interrogation. But Odin 
persists, and asks, who those maidens are that do not 
weep for Baldur, but let their towering head-gear flaunt 
towards heaven l ? Hereupon the Vala exclaims : " Thou 
art not Vegtam, as I before believed; rather art thou 
Odin, chief of men." To this Odin answers : " No Vala 
art thou, nor wise woman : rather art thou mother of 
three giants." To this insulting speech the Vala replies : 
" Ride home, and boast of thy feat. Never shall mortal 
visit me again, till Loki shall have burst his chains, and 
Ragnarock be come." 

When Loki, Laufey s son, saw the sport before men 
tioned, he was displeased that Baldur was not hurt, and 
in the likeness of a woman he went to Frigg in Fensalir. 
Frigg inquired of her whether she knew what the jEsir 
were doing in their assembly ? She answered that they 
were all shooting at Baldur, but without hurting him. 
Frigg then said, " Neither weapon nor wood will hurt Bal- 

1 Who these maidens are we are nowhere informed, though it is evident 
they were not visible to mortal eyes, and that by discerning them Odin 
betrayed his divine nature. The lost myth concerning them must have 
been at variance with the story of Thb kt (see hereafter) who is mentioned 
as the only being that would not bewail the death of Baldur. 



dur : I have exacted an oath from all of them." On 
hearing this, the woman asked, "Have all things, then, 
sworn to spare Baldur ?" Frigg told her in reply, that 
the mistletoe, a little insignificant plant, growing to the 
west of Valhall, was the only thing from which she had 
not required an oath, as it appeared to her too young to 
take one. Loki then departed, went and pulled up the 
mistletoe, and took it with him to the assembly, where all 
were engaged in their sport with Baldur. Hod was stand 
ing without the circle. Turning towards him, Loki asked 
why he did not shoot ? Hod excused himself by saying 
that he was both blind and unarmed. " But," said Loki, 
"thou shouldst, nevertheless, show to Baldur the same 
honour as the others. Take this wand, and I will direct 
thee to where he is standing." Hod took the mistletoe, 
aud. cast it at Baldur : it pierced him through, and he fell 
dead to the earth. This was the most deplorable event 
that had till then happened among gods and men. 

On Baldur s fall the Msir were struck speechless, and 
lost all presence of mind. One looked at another, and all 
breathed vengeance on the author of the misdeed ; but no 
one durst wreak his vengeance there, the place being 
sacred (a place of peace). When they essayed to speak, 
tears burst forth, so that they could not impart their 
sorrow to each other. But Odin was the most afflicted by 
this misfortune, for he saw how much the ^Esir would 
lose by the death of Baldur. 

When they had somewhat recovered themselves, Frigg 
asked, which of the JSsir was willing to gain her love and 
esteem by riding to Hel for the purpose of finding Baldur, 
and offering her a ransom, if she would allow him to re 
turn to Asgard. Hermod, Odin s active son and follower, 
undertook the journey; Sleipnir was led forth, Hermod 
mounted and galloped away. 

The JEtsir conveyed Baldur s corpse to the sea- shore; 


but his ship named Hringhorni (which was the largest of 
all ships), on which they were to burn the body, they were 
unable to get afloat; whereupon a message was sent to 
Jotunheim, to the giantess Hyrrockin, who came riding 
on a wolf, with a viper for a rein. Dismounting from her 
palfrey, which four doughty champions (berserkir), called 
by Odin to take charge of it, could hold only by casting 
it on the earth, she went to the prow, and sent the ship 
forth with such force, that fire sprang from the rollers 
placed under it, and the whole earth trembled. At this 
Thor was incensed, and seized his hammer to cleave her 
head ; but all the other gods interceded for her. Baldur s 
corpse was then borne out on the ship. His wife Nanna, 
the daughter of Nep, grieved so intensely that her heart 
burst, and her body was laid on the pile with that of her 
beloved Baldur. The pile was then kindled: Thor was 
present and consecrated it with his hammer, arid kicked 
the dwarf Litur, who was running before his feet, into the 
fire. At this funeral many people were present : Odin 
with Frigg and his ravens and the Valkyriur, Frey in his 
chariot drawn by the hog Gullinborsti or Slidrugtanni^ 
Heimdall on his horse Gulltopp, Freyia with her cats, 
besides a great multitude of frost-giants and mountain- 
giants. Odin laid his ring Draupnir on the pile, from 
which afterwards, every ninth night, there dropt eight 
rings of equal weight. Baldur s horse was also cast on 
the pile with all his housings. 

Hermod, we are told, rode nine nights and days through 
dark and deep valleys, until he reached the river Gioll, 
where he crossed over the bridge, which is paved with 
shining gold. The maiden Modgud (M6)>gu]?r), who 
guards it, inquired his name and race, and said, that the 
day before five troops of dead had ridden over the bridge, 
but that it did not resound so loudly as under him alone : 
" Nor," added she, "hast thou the hue of the dead. Why 



then dost thou ride on the way to Hel?" Hermod 
answered, " I am riding to Hel to seek Baldur : hast thou 
seen aught of him on this road?" She answered, that 
Baldur had ridden over the bridge, and showed him the 
way that led downwards and northwards to Hel. Hermod 
rode on until he came to the barred enclosure which sur 
rounds Hel s abode. Here he dismounted, tightened the 
saddle-girth, and having remounted, clapped spurs to his 
horse and cleared the enclosure. Thence he rode straight 
to the hall, where he saw his brother Baldur sitting in the 
place of honour. He remained there that night. The next 
morning, he besought of Hel that Baldur might ride home 
with him, and represented to her the grief of the Jllsir for 
his loss. Hel answered, that it would now appear whether 
Baldur were really so beloved as was said ; for if everything 
in the world, living and lifeless, bewailed him, he should 
return to the ^Esir ; if not, he should continue with her. 
Hermod rose up, Baldur followed him out of the hall, took 
the ring Draupnir, and sent it to Odin as a remembrance ; 
and Nanna sent her veil with other presents to Frigg, 
and to Fulla her ring. Hermod returned to Asgard, and 
related what he had seen and heard. 

Thereupon the ^Esir sent messages over the whole world, 
praying all things to weep for Baldur, and thereby release 
him from Hel. And all did so : men and beasts, earth 
and stones, wood and all metals. But as the messengers 
were returning, they found in a cavern a giantess named 
Thokt, who, on their beseeching her to weep for Baldur, 

" Yes, Thokt will wail, 

weep with dry tears, 

for Baldur s death ; 

breathes he or dies, 

it boots me not : 

let him bide with Hel." 
Baldur s death was avenged by Odin s son Vali, who, 


though only one day old, unwashed and uncombed, slew 
Hod 1 . 

Thokt, it was supposed, was Loki, who had thus not 
only caused the death of Baldur, but also prevented his 
release from Hel. To escape from the vengeance of the 
gods, he concealed himself in a mountain, where he built 
a house with four doors, that he might see on all sides. 
But in the day-time he often transformed himself into a 
salmon, and hid himself in the waterfall called Franan- 
gur s fors. He was one day sitting in his house twisting 
flax and yarn, and forming meshes, like the nets of later 
times, with a fire burning before him, when he perceived 
that the Msir were not far off; for Odin had spied out his 
retreat from Hlidskialf. On the approach of the ^Esir, he 
threw the net-work into the fire, and sprang into the river. 
Kvasir, the wisest of the /Esir, was the first that entered, 
who, on seeing the ashes of the net-work on the fire, con 
cluded that it must be for the purpose of catching fish. 
On mentioning this to the ^Esir, they took hemp, made a 
net after what they had seen on the ashes, and cast it into 
the water-fall; Thor holding it at one end, and all the 
2Esir drawing it at the other. But Loki went to a dis 
tance, and placed himself between two stones, so that the 
net passed over him ; but they were aware that something 
living had touched it. They then cast it out a second 
time, having tied to it something heavy, so that nothing 
could slip from under it ; but Loki went on farther, and 
perceiving that he was near the sea, he sprang over the 
net up into the water-fall. The ^Esir having now ascer 
tained where he was, returned to the waterfall, and di 
vided themselves into two parties, Thor wading in the 
middle of the river towards the sea. Loki had now the 
alternative, either, at the risk of his life, to swim out to 
sea, or again to leap over the net. With the greatest 
1 Gylf. 49. Vegtamskvitfa. Vbluspa, Str. 36-38. Hyndlulj. Str. 28. . 


promptitude he tried the latter chance, when Thor grasped 
him, but he slipt in his hand, and it was by the tail 
only that Thor could secure him. To this circumstance 
it is owing that the salmon has so pointed a tail. 

When the gods had thus captured Loki, they brought 
him to a cave, raised up three fragments of rock, and 
bored holes through them. They then took his sons, 
Vali (Ali) and Narfi (Nari). Vali they transformed into 
a wolf, and he tore his brother Narfi in pieces. With his 
entrails they bound Loki over the three stones, one being 
under his shoulders, another under his loins, the third 
under his hams ; and the bands became iron. Skadi then 
hung a venomous snake above his head, so that the poison 
might drip on his face ; but his wife Sigyn stands by him, 
and holds a cup under the dripping venom. When the 
cup is full, the poison falls on his face while she empties 
it; and he shrinks from it, so that the whole earth trem 
bles. Thence come earthquakes. There will he lie bound 
until Ragnarock 1 . 

chained under the hot spring s grove. In the iron forest 
east of Midgard the old giantess brought forth Fenrir s 
(the deep s) progeny; one of which, named Skoll, will 
pursue the sun to the encircling ocean ; the other, Hati, 
Hrodvitnir s son, called also Managarm, will run before 
the sun, and will swallow up the moon. He will be sated 
with the lives of the dying. On a height will sit the 
giantess s watch, the dauntless Egdir (eagle), and strike 
his harp ; over him, in the Bird- wood, will crow the light- 
red cock Fialar. Over the ^Esir will crow the gold-combed 
cock that wakens heroes in Odin s hall. But a soot-red 
cock will crow beneath the earth in Hel s abode. Loudly 
will howl the dog Garm in Gnipa s cave ; bonds will be 
1 Gylf. 50. Lokaglepsa, conclusion. Voluspa, Str. 39, 40. 


burst, loose the wolf run forth ; brothers will contend and 
slay each other, kindred tear kindred s bond asunder. It 
will go hard with the world. Great abominations there 
shall be : an axe-tide, a sword-tide ; shields shall be cloven ; 
a wind-tide, a wolf-tide, ere the world perishes : no man 
will then spare another. The tree of knowledge 1 (Miot- 
viiSr, Miotuftr) shall be burnt, Mimir s sons shall dance 
to the resounding Giallar-horn, Heimdall raise high his 
trump and blow, Odin consult Mimir s head ; Yggdrasil s 
ash, that ancient tree, tremble but stand; from the east 
Hrym shall come driving, then shall ocean swell; Jor- 
mungand (Midgard s serpent) put on his giant-mood, and 
plough through the billowy deep; but glad shall the 
eagle scream, and with its pale beak tear corpses; Naglfar 
shall go forth, the keel from the east shall glide, when 
Muspell s sons over the ocean sail ; Loki will steer it ; the 
wolf be followed by its whole monstrous progeny, led by 
Byleist s brother (Loki). What now befalls the JSsir ? 
What befalls the Elves ? All Jotunheim resounds ; the 
^Esir meet in council ; the dwarfs moan before their stony 
doors. From the south comes Surt with flickering flames ; 
from his sword gleams the heaven-god s sun ; the stone- 
mountains crack, the giantesses stumble, men tread the 
way to Hel, and heaven is riven. Then shall come Hlin s 
second sorrow 2 , when Odin goes with the wolf to fight, 
and Beli s radiant slayer against Surt. Then shall fall 
Frigg s dearest god. Then shall come the great victor 
father s son, Vidar, to fight against the deadly monster ; 
he with his hand shall cause his sword to stand in the 
giant s son s heart. Then shall the glorious son of Hlodyn, 
Odin s son (Thor), go against the monster (Midgard s 
serpent), bravely shall slay it Midgard s defender. Then 
shall all men their home (the world) forsake. Nine feet 
shall go Fiorgyn s (Earth s) son from the serpent, bowed 
1 Lit. The middle tree. 2 Baldur s death was the first. See p. 35. 


down, who feared no evil. The sun shall be darkened, 
earth in ocean sink, the glittering stars vanish from heaven, 
smoky clouds encircle the all-nourishing tree (Yggdrasil), 
high flames play against heaven itself 1 . 

There will come a winter called Fimbul-winter, when snow 
will drift from every side, a hard frost prevail, and cutting 
winds ; the sun will lose its power. Of these winters 
three will follow without an intervening summer. But 
before these, three other winters will come, during which 
there will be bloodshed throughout the world. Brothers 
will slay each other through covetousness, and no mercy 
will be found between parents and children. Then will 
great events take place. One wolf will swallow up the 
sun, to the great detriment of mankind ; the other wolf 
will take the moon, and will also cause a great loss. The 
stars will vanish from heaven. Then will it also happen 
that the whole earth and the mountains tremble, that the 
trees will be loosed from the earth, and the mountains 
come toppling down, and all fetters and bonds be broken 
and snapt asunder. The wolf Fenrir will break loose, the 
sea will burst over the land, because Midgard s serpent 
writhes with giant rage, and strives to get on land. Then 
also will the ship called Naglfar be loosed, which is made 
of dead men s nails. It should, therefore, be borne in 
mind, that when any one dies with uncut nails, he much 
increases the materials for the construction of Naglfar, 
which both gods and men wish finished as late as possible 2 . 

1 Gylf. 12. 51. Grimnism. Str. 39. Voluspa, Str. 32-35, 41, 42, 46-58. 
Vafymdnism. Str. 18. 53. Fafnism. Str. 14, 15. 

2 Grimm suggests that by the slow process of constructing a ship, de 
scribed as the largest of all ships (see p. 38), of the parings of the nails of 
the dead, it is simply meant to convey an idea of the great length of time 
that is to elapse before the end of the world, and which the implied ad 
monition to cut and burn the nails of the dead, is intended still further to 
prolong. D. M. p. 775, note. 


In this sea-flood Naglfar will float : Hrym is the giant 
named who will steer it. The wolf Fenrir will go forth 
with gaping mouth : his upper jaw will touch heaven, and 
his nether jaw the earth : if there were room, he would 
gape even more widely; fire burns from his eyes and 
nostrils. Midgard s serpent will blow forth venom, which 
will infect the air and the waters. He is most terrific, 
and he will be by the side of the wolf. During this tumult 
heaven will be cloven, and MuspelFs sons ride forth : 
Surt will ride first, and both before and after him will be 
burning fire. The gleam of his good sword is brighter 
than the sun ; but as they ride over it Bifrost will 
break. MuspelPs sons will proceed to the plain called 
Vigrid (Vigrtyr) : there will come also the wolf Fenrir and 
Midgard s serpent; there will Loki also have come, and 
Hrym, and with them all the frost-giants. All the friends 
of Hel will follow Loki, but MuspelPs sons will have their 
own bright battle-order. Vigrid s plain is a hundred miles 
wide on every side. 

But when these events take place, Heimdall will stand 
up, and blow with all his might the Giallar-horn, and rouse 
up every god to hold a meeting. Odin will then ride to 
Mimir s well, and take counsel for himself and friends. 
Then will the ash Yggdrasil tremble, and nothing will be 
free from fear in heaven and earth. The .ZEsir will arm, 
and all the Einheriar, and go forth to the plain. Odin 
will ride first with his golden helmet and bright corselet, 
and his spear Gungnir : he will encounter the wolf Fenrir. 
Thor will be at his side, but may not help him, as he will 
be fully engaged in fighting with Midgard s serpent. Frey 
will fight with Surt, and after a hard conflict fall. The 
cause of his death will be, the lack of his good sword, which 
he gave to Skirnir. Then will the dog Garm be loosed, 
which had till then been bound before Gnipa s cave : he 
will prove the greatest misfortune ; he will fight against 

E 5 


Ty, and they will slay each other. Thor will gain glory 
from [the slaying of] Midgard s serpent ; thence he will 
walk nine feet, and then fall dead from the venom blown 
on him by the serpent. The wolf will swallow Odin, and 
so cause his death ; but immediately after, Vidar will come 
forth, and step on the monster s nether jaw with the foot 
on which he will have his formidable shoe ! . With his 
hand he will seize the wolf s upper jaw, and rend his 
mouth asunder. Thus will the wolf be slain. Loki will 
enter into conflict with Heimdall, and they will slay each 
other. After all this, Surt will hurl fire over the earth, 
and burn the whole world. 

After the conflagration of heaven and earth and the 
whole universe, there will still be many dwellings, some 
good some bad, though it will be best to be in Gimli, in 
heaven : and those who are partial to good drinking will 
find it in the hall called Brimir, which is also in heaven 
[in Okolni] . That is also a good hall which stands on 
the Nida-fells, made of red gold, and is called Sindri. In 
these halls good and upright men will dwell. In Nastrond 
there is a large and horrible habitation, the door of which 
is towards the north. It is formed of the backs of ser 
pents, like a house built of wands, but all the serpents 
heads are turned into the house, and blow forth venom, 
so that the venom flows through the halls, in which wade 
perjurers and murderers, as it is said 2 : 

She saw a hall 

from the sun far remote 

on Nastrond stand ; 

northward are its doors ; 

through the roof opening 

run venom- drops ; 

built is that hall 

of backs of snakes ; 

men, forswearers 

1 See page 29. 2 Voluspa, Str. 44. 


and murderers, 
through waters foul, 
wading she saw, 
and who the ears beguile 
of others wives. 

But in Hvergelmir it is worst ; there l 
the serpent Nidhogg 
sucks the dead bodies, 
the wolf tears them. 

There too the river Slid (Sltyr) falls from the east 
through poisonous valleys, filled with mud and swords 2 . 

OF THE NEW WORLD. There will arise, a second time, 
an earth from ocean, in verdant beauty; waterfalls will 
descend, the eagle fly over that catches fish in the moun 
tain-streams. The Msir will meet again on Ida s plain, 
and of the mighty earth-encircler speak. There will they 
remember the great deeds of old, and the glorious gods 
ancient lore. Then will they find in the grass the won 
drous golden tables, which at Time s origin, the prince of 
gods and Fiolnir s race had possessed. Unsown fields 
shall then bear fruit, all evil cease. Baldur shall return ; 
he and Hod dwell in Odin s noble hall, the heavenly god s 
abode. Hoenir shall there offerings receive, and two bro 
thers sons inhabit the spacious Vindheim. There will be 
a hall brighter than the sun, roofed with gold, in Gimli ; 
there virtuous folk shall dwell, and happiness enjoy for 
evermore. Then will come the Mighty One to the gods 
council, powerful from above, he who rules all things : he 
will pronounce judgements, and appease quarrels, establish 
peace that shall last for ever. But from beneath, from 
Nidafell will come flying the dusky, spotted serpent Nid 
hogg, bearing dead carcases on his wings 3 . 

In Snorri s Edda the renewal of the world is thus de- 

1 Voluspa, Str. 45. 2 Ib> Str< 42> 

3 Gylf. 17, 52, 53. Voluspa, Str. 42-45, 59-66. VafJ>rudnism. Str 39 
45, 47, 48, 49, 51. Hyndlulj. Str. 41. 


scribed. A new earth will spring up from the sea, which 
will be both green and fair ; there will the unsown fields 
bring forth fruit. Vidar and Vali will be living, as if 
neither the sea nor Surt s fire had injured them ; they will 
dwell on Ida s plain, where Asgard formerly stood. And 
thither will come the sons of Thor, Modi and Magni, and 
will have Miolnir with them. Next will come Baldur and 
Hod from Hel. They will sit and converse together, and 
call to remembrance their secret councils, and discourse 
of events long since past; of Midgard s serpent and 
the wolf Fenrir. Then will they find in the grass the 
golden tables formerly belonging to the ^Esir, as it is 
said : " Vidar and Vali shall inhabit the house of the gods, 
when Surt s fire is quenched." Modi and Magni will pos 
sess Miolnir, and labour to end strife. But in a place 
called Hoddmimir s holt, two persons, Lif and Lifthrasir, 
will lie concealed during Surfs conflagration, who will 
feed on morning dew. From these will come so great a 
progeny, that the whole earth will be peopled by them. 
And it will seem wonderful, that the sun will have brought 
forth a daughter not less fair than herself. She will 
journey in her mother s path, as it is said : " A daughter 
shall the sun bring forth ere Fenrir destroys her. The 
maid shall ride on her mother s track, when the gods are 
dead ." 


Volund and his brothers, Slagfin (SlagfrSr) and Egil, 
were the sons of a king of the Fins. They ran on snow- 

1 Gylf. 53. 

2 The Saga of Vblund or Veland (Volundr), though without claim for 
admission within the pale of the MYTHOLOGY OF THE ^EsiR, yet, on ac 
count of its intimate connection with that mythology, of its high antiquity, 
as well as of the wide-spread, celebrity of its hero throughout the middle 
age, cannot well be omitted in a work professing to be an account of the 
MYTHOLOGY OF THE NORTH. I have, therefore, added it. 


skates and hunted the beasts of the forest. They came to 
a place called Ulfdal, where they built themselves a house 
near a lake called Ulfsiar (Wolf-waters) . One morning early 
they found on the bank of the lake three maidens sitting and 
spinning flax, with swan-plumages lying beside them. They 
were Valkyriur. Two of them, named Hladgun Svanhvit 
and Hervor Alvit, were daughters of a king named Hlodver; 
the third was Olrun, the daughter of Kiar king of Val- 
land. The brothers conducted them to their dwelling, and 
took them to wife, Egil obtaining Olrun, Slagfin Svan 
hvit, and Volund Alvit. After having lived eight years 
with their husbands, the Valkyriur flew away in quest of 
conflicts, and did not return ; whereupon Egil and Slagfin 
set out on their snow- skates in search of them, but Volund 
remained at home in Ulfdal. According to old tradition, 
Volund was of all men the most skilful. His hours of 
solitude were passed in making rings of gold and setting 
them with precious stones : these he hung on a line of 
bast. Thus did he while away the long hours, anxiously 
awaiting his fair consort s return. 

Having received intelligence that Volund was alone in 
his dwelling, Nidud (Nijm^r), king of the Niarer in Swe 
den, sent a party of armed men thither by night, during 
Volund s absence at the chase, who on searching the house, 
found the line of rings, to the number of seven hundred, 
one of which they carried off. On his return, Volund pro 
ceeded to roast bear s flesh, and while the meat was at the 
fire, sat down on a bear-skin to count his rings. Missing 
one, he concluded that Alvit was returned and had taken 
it. In anxious expectation of seeing her enter, he at 
length fell asleep, and on waking found that his hands 
and feet were fast bound with heavy chains, and that Nidud 
was standing by his side, who charged him with having 
stolen the gold from him of which the rings were made. 
Volund repelled the charge, declaring that while their 


wives were with them they had possessed many treasures. 
The ring Nidud gave to his daughter Bodvildi ; but a 
sword, in the tempering and hardening of which Volund 
had exerted his utmost skill, Nidud took for himself. 

Apprehensive of vengeance on the part of Volund, for 
the injuries he had inflicted on him, Nidud, at the sug 
gestion of his queen, caused him to be hamstringed l , and 
confined on an islet called Ssevarstod. Here he fabricated 
all kinds of precious things for the king, who allowed no 
one excepting himself to visit him. One day, however, the 
two young sons of Nidud, heedless of the prohibition, 
came to Volund s habitation, and proceeding at once to 
the chest in which his valuables were kept, demanded 
the keys. Here they feasted their eyes over the many 
costly ornaments of gold thus brought to view, and re 
ceived from Volund the promise, that if they would return 
on a future day, he would make them a present of the 
gold they had seen, at the same time enjoining them to 
keep their visit a secret from all. They came accordingly, 
and while stooping over the contents of the chest, Volund 
struck off" their heads, and concealed their bodies in an 
adjacent dunghill. The upper part of their skulls he set 
in silver, and presented them as drinking cups to Nidud ; 
of their eyes he formed precious stones (pearls), which he 
gave to Nidud s queen ; of their teeth he made breast- 
ornaments, which he sent to Bodvildi. 

Bodvildi having broken the ring given to her by her father 
from Volund s collection, and fearing her father s anger, 

1 Another and, no doubt, older tradition respecting Volund is referred 
to by Deor the skald (Cod. Exon. p. 377), according to which Nithhad, as 
he is called in the A. S. poem, only bound him with a thong of sinews : 
SiH>an nine NriShad on When that on him Nithhad 

nede legde, constraint had laid, 

swoncre seono-bende. with a tough (pliant) sinew-band. 

The hamstringing will then appear to be a later improvement on the 


took it privately to Volund, in order to have it repaired. 
f< I will so mend it," said he, " that thou shalt appear 
fairer to thy father, and much better to thy mother and 
thyself/ He then gave her beer, which so overpowered 
her that she fell asleep, and while in that state fell a 
victim to the passions of Volund. " Now/ exclaimed he, 
" are all the sufferings save one avenged that I underwent 
in the forest. I wish only that I had again the use of my 
sinews, of which Nidud s men deprived me." Laughing 
he then raised himself in air, while Bodvildi in tears de 
parted from the islet. Descending on the wall of the 
royal palace, Volund called aloud to Nidud, who, on in 
quiring what had become of his sons, was thus answered : 
" First thou shalt swear to me all these oaths : By board 
of ship, and buckler s rim, by horse s shoulder, and edge 
of sword, that thou wilt not harm the wife of Volund, or 
cause her death, be she known to you or not, or whether 
or not we have offspring. Go to the smithy that thou hast 
built, there wilt thou see the blood-stained trunks of thy 
young ones. I struck off their heads, and in the prison s 
filth laid their carcases ; their skulls I set in silver, and 
sent them to Nidud ; of their eyes I formed precious stones, 
and sent them to Nidud s crafty wife ; of their teeth I 
made breast-pearls, which I sent to Bodvildi, your only 
daughter, who is now pregnant." Then laughing at the 
threats and maledictions of Nidud, Volund again raised 
himself on high. Thereupon Nidud summoned to his pre 
sence his daughter Bodvildi, who confessed to him all that 
had befallen her on the islet. 

The foregoing Saga, from Ssemund s Edda, differs ma 
terially in its details from the story of f Velint, as given 
in the Vilkina Saga, the substance of which has been thus 
condensed by the late learned Dr. Peter Erasmus Miiller, 
Bishop of Seeland 1 . 

1 Sagabibliothek, Bd. ii. p. 154. 


While King Vilkinus, on his return from an expedition 
to the Baltic, lay with his fleet on the coast of Russia, he 
went one day up into a forest, where he met with a beau 
tiful woman, who was a mermaid l . In the following year 
she brought forth a son, who received the name of Vadi 2 , 
and grew to a gigantic stature. His father, who had no 
great affection for him, nevertheless gave him twelve man 
sions in Seeland. Vadi had a son named Velint, who, in 
his ninth year, was placed by his father for instruction 
with a smith named Mimir in Hunaland, where he had 
much to endure from Sigurd Svend, who was also under 
the same master. This coming to the knowledge of his 
father in Seeland, he, at the expiration of three years, took 
his son away from Mimir, and placed him with two skil 
ful dwarfs, who dwelt in the mountain of Kallova (Kullen). 
two years afterwards his father went to fetch him, but 
perished by a mountain-slip. Velint slew the dwarfs, who, 
being envious of his superior skill, had sought his life. 
He then placed himself with his tools in a hollowed tree, 
having a glass window in front, and committed himself to 
the mercy of the waves, which bore him to the coast of 
Jutland, where he was well received by Nidung, who at 
that time ruled in Thy. Here he availed himself of the 
opportunity of showing how greatly he excelled in curious 
works the king s own smith ^Emilias. 

It happened on a certain time that the king went forth 
to war with thirty thousand horse, and had proceeded five 
days at the head of his army, when he discovered that 
he had left behind him the talisman (sigursteinn) which 

1 In the German poem of the Rabenschlacht, 964, 969, she is called 
Frou Wachilt. 

2 In the Scop or Scald s Tale (Cod. Exon. 320, 1) we have " Wada 
(weold) Haelsingum " (Wada ruled the Helsings). Memorials of this tribe 
are Helsingborg, Helsingor (Elsinor), Helsingfors, Helsingland, etc. Wade s 
boat, Guingelot, is celebrated by Chaucer. 


brought him victory. To repair his mishap, he promised 
to bestow his daughter and half his kingdom on him who 
should bring him the talisman on the following day be 
fore sunset. Velint performs the feat, but having by the 
way killed one of the king s men in self-defence, it affords 
the king a pretext for declaring him an outlaw. To wreak 
his vengeance, Velint disguises himself as a cook, and puts 
charmed herbs in the food of the princess, but she detects 
the treachery, and Velint is seized, hamstringed, and con 
demned to make ornaments in the king s court for his 

At this time, by Velint s desire, his younger brother 
Egil came to Nidung s court. Being famed for his skill 
in archery, the king commanded him to shoot an apple, at 
a single shot, from the head of his son, a child of three 
years. Having performed this deed, the king, seeing that 
he had taken two arrows from his quiver, demanded of 
him for what purpose they were intended ? Egil answered, 
" They were designed for thee, if I had hit the child." 
This bold answer was not taken amiss by the king. 

Velint in the meantime was brooding over vengeance. 
One day the king s daughter came to his smithy, for the 
purpose of getting a broken ring mended ; when Velint, 
availing himself of the opportunity, violated her. This 
crime was shortly after followed by the murder of the 
king s two youngest sons, whom he had enticed to his 
smithy. Their bones he set in costly golden vessels, which 
were placed on their father s table. Velint then made 
himself a plumage of feathers collected by his brother Egil, 
by means of which he flew up on the highest tower of the 
palace, from whence he declared all that he had done. 
Nidung on hearing this commanded Egil, under threats 
of death, to shoot his brother, and he actually struck him 
under the left arm, but where, as had been previously 
concerted between them, a bladder was placed filled with 


blood, which Nidung imagined to be the blood of Velint : 
he, however, flew to his father s abode in Seeland. Shortly 
after these events Nidung died, and Velint was reconciled 
with his son Otwin, and married his sister, who had 
already borne him a son named Vidga 1 . 

OR HOLGABRU^R) AND IRPA. Objects of worship among 
the people of Halgoland, in Norway, were Thorgerd Hor- 
gabrud and her sister Irpa. Who these were will appear 
from the following extract : 

" The Halgolanders had their local deities, who were 
but rarely worshiped by the other Scandinavians. One of 
these was Halogi (high flame), or Helgi (holy), from 
whom the whole district, of which he was king, derived its 
name of Haloga-land, or Holga-land 2 . He was probably 
identical with the Logi and Loki (fire, flame) formerly 
worshiped by the Fins. His daughters were Thorgerd 
Horgabrud, or Holgabrud, and Irpa, of whom the former 
was an object of especial veneration with Hakon Jarl, and 
to propitiate whom, we are informed, he sacrificed his son 
Erling, a child of seven years, when engaged in a doubt 
ful battle with the pirates of Jomsborg. She consequently 
appeared in a raging hail-storm from the north, and the 
pirates imagined that they saw both her and her sister 
Irpa on board of the jarFs ship ; an arrow flew from each 
of her fingers, and every arrow carried a man s death 8 . 
In Gudbrandsdal she and Irpa together with Thor were 
worshiped in a temple, which Hakon Jarl and the chief 
tain Gudbrand possessed in common 4 . In western Nor- 

1 The Wudga mentioned in The Scop or Scald s Song (Cod. Exon. 326), 
the Vidrik Verlandson of the Danish Kjaempeviser. For the several ex 
tracts relating to these personages, from German and Northern sources, 
see W. Grimm s Deutsche Heldensage passim. 

2 See p. 27. 

3 Jomsv. S. edit. 1824, c. 14. Fornm. S. xi. p. 134. Olaf Tryggv. S. 
in Fornm. S. p. 90. 4 Njalss. p. 89. 


way she had also a temple most sumptuously constructed, 
in which the said Hakon Jarl paid her the most profound 
adoration 1 . Even in Iceland Thorgerd was worshiped in 
a temple at Olves-vand, and was regarded as a tutelary 
spirit by the chieftain Grimkell and his family 2 . Her 
statue is described as having gold rings on the arms 3 . 


In consequence of its immediate connection with the 
Mythology of the JEsir, it has been deemed desirable to 
relate the origin of the celebrated Nibelungen Hoard or 
Treasure, the calamities caused by which form the subject 
of so many compositions, both Scandinavian and German. 
The following condensation of the story is chiefly by the 
late learned Bishop Peter Erasmus Miiller 4 . 

There was a man named Sigi ; he was descended from 
the gods, and was called a son of Odin. There was an 
other man named Skadi, who had a bold and active thrall 
called Bredi. Sigi went out to hunt with Bredi, but in a 
fit of jealousy at the greater success of the thrall, he slew 
him. Sigi thus became an outlaw, and, conducted by 
Odin, went far away, and obtained some war-ships, by 
means of which he at length became king over Hunaland. 
In his old age he was slain by his wife s relations, but his 
son, Rerir, avenged his death on them all. 

Rerir became a great warrior, but had no offspring. He 
and his queen prayed fervently to the gods for an heir. 
Their prayer was heard. Odin sent his maiden (dskmey) 5 , 

1 Faereyings. 23. 

2 Saga of HorSi, i. 18. Lex. Myth. p. 981. Keyser, Nordm. Relig. p 75 
8 Fornra. S. ii. p. 108. 

4 Sagabibliothek, Bd. ii. p. 36. 

5 The same as a Valkyria, and probably so called from Oski, one of the 
names of Odin. See p. 15 and note, and Grimm, D. M. p. 390. 


a daughter of the giant (jotun) Hrimnir, with an apple to 
the king. She assumed the guise of a crow (krageham), 
flew to a mound, on which Rerir was sitting, and let the 
apple fall into his bosom. The king ate of it, and his 
queen forthwith became pregnant, but could not bring 
forth. In this state she passed six years, when a wonder 
fully large child was cut from her womb. He was named 
Volsung, and kissed his mother before her death. 

Volsung married the daughter of Hrimnir, by whom he 
had ten sons, and a daughter named Signi. Sigmund and 
Signi, the eldest, were twins. Signi was married to a 
king of Gothland, named Siggeir. At the nuptial feast 
there came a tall, one-eyed old man, barefooted, wrapt in 
a cloak, with a broad-brimmed hat, into the hall, in the 
middle of which stood an oak 1 , whose roots passed under 
the floor, while its branches covered the roof. The old 
man struck a sword into the trunk of the tree, as a gift 
for any one who should draw it forth. Sigmund acquired 
the sword, to the mortification of Siggeir, who on his de 
parture invites Volsung to be his guest in Gothland ; but 
on his arrival there, attacks him with an overwhelming 
force, slays him, and makes all his sons prisoners. 

Signi begged that her brothers might not be imme 
diately put to death. Their feet were set fast in a large 
tree in the forest, and every night there came a wolf and 
devoured one of them, until Sigmund was the only one 
left. Signi caused his face to be smeared with honey, and 
some to be laid in his mouth, so that when the wolf came, 
he licked the honey, and put his tongue into Sigmund s 
mouth, which Sigmund seized with his teeth. The wolf 
kicked with so much violence that the trunk of the tree 
burst asunder. The wolf lost his tongue, and got his 
death. Sigmund fled to a cave in the forest. Signi sent 
1 This primitive style of building speaks strongly for the antiquity of 
the legend. 


her two sons to bear him company ; but finding they were 
not sufficiently stout and valiant, he killed them by the 
counsel of Signi; who then changed form with a troll- 
wife, and was three days in the cave with her brother, to 
whom she bore a son, who was named Sinfiotli. He, when 
ten years old, was sent to Sigmund s cave, and was bold 
enough to knead a dough, without caring for the nume 
rous snakes that were in it. Sigmund then and his son 
turned robbers. One day they fell in with the sons of 
some king, who nine days in ten, through enchantment, 
wore the form of wolves 1 . By putting on their wolfish 
garbs, Sigmund and his son became wolves ; but when the 
time came for laying them aside, they burnt them, so that 
they might do no more harm. They now went to Siggeii^s 
castle, where they concealed themselves, but were disco 
vered through two young children of Signi. These, at the 
instigation of Signi, were slain by Sinfiotli, who, together 
with Sigmund, was immediately after overpowered by Sig- 
geir s men, and cast into a pit, to die of hunger. Just 
before the pit was closed, Signi came to it, and threw into 
it a helmet full of pork, and Sigmund s sword, by the aid 
of which they worked their way out. They then set the 
royal castle on fire. When Signi heard what had taken 
place, she went out and kissed them both, then went in 
again, glad to die with the man with whom she had so 
unwillingly lived. 

Sigmund, who had returned to his paternal kingdom of 
Hunaland, married Borghild, by whom he had a son, 
Helgi, of whom the Noras foretold that he should become 
a powerful prince. Helgi went to war, together with Sin 
fiotli, and slew King Hunding, whence he acquired the 

1 This is the earliest trace of the werwolf superstition occurring in the 
traditions of the North. While Sigmund and his son slept, their wolf 
skins hung close by them (Fornald. Sogur, i. 130, 131). In the Leges 
Eccl. of Cnut, xxvi., the werwolf is named as a known, existing being. 


name of Hundingsbani, and afterwards slew several of his 
sons. In a forest he met with Sigran, a daughter of King 
Hogni, who solicited him to free her from Hodbrod, son 
of Granmar, to whom her father had betrothed her. Hod- 
brod is slain in a battle, Helgi marries Sigrun, and be 
comes a powerful king. 

In another expedition, Sinfiotli killed a brother oi 
Borghild, who in revenge prepared a poisonous drink, 
which caused his death. Sigmund bore the corpse in his 
arms to a narrow frith, where there was a man with a 
small boat, who offered to convey him across; but no 
sooner had Sigmund laid the corpse in the boat, than the 
man pushed off and vanished. After this Sigmund parted 
from Borghild and married Hiordis, a daughter of King 
Eilimi, but was attacked in his kingdom by King Lmgi, 
who with his brothers had assembled a numerous army. 
Sigmund fought valiantly in the battle, until he was met 
by a one-eyed man, with a broad hat, and blue cloak, who 
held his spear against the sword of the king, which it shi 
vered into fragments. Sigmund fell with almost the whole 
of his army. At night, Hiordis came to the field of battle, 
and asked Sigmund whether he could be healed, but he 
declined her kind offices, for his good fortune had forsaken 
him, since Odin had broken his sword, of which he re 
quested Hiordis to collect the fragments, and give them 
to the son she bore under her heart, who should become 
the greatest of the Volsung race. 

Hiordis was carried off by Alf, a son of King Hialprek of 
Denmark, who had just landed at the battle-place with a 
band of vikings. She had changed clothes with her at 
tendant, who gave herself out as queen. But Alf s mother, 
suspecting the artifice, caused her son to ask, how towards 
the end of night they could know what hour it was, when 
they could not look on the heavens ? The servant an 
swered, that in her youth she had been in the habit of 


drinking mead at early morn, and therefore always woke 
at the same hour. But Hiordis answered, that her father 
had given her a gold ring, which cooled her finger by 
night, and that was her sign. " Now," said the king, " I 
know which is the mistress," and expressed his intention 
to marry her as soon as she had given birth to her child. 
After the birth of Sigurd (SigurJ?r), Hiordis accordingly 
became the wife of Hialprek. 

Sigurd grew up in Hialprek s court, under the care of 
Regin, who instructed him in all the branches of know 
ledge known at that time, as chess, runes, and many lan 
guages. He also urged him to demand his father s trea 
sure of Hialprek. Sigurd asked a horse of the king, who 
allowed him to choose one ; and Odin, in the guise of an 
old man with a long beard, aided him to find out Grani, 
that was of Sleipnir s race. Regin would then have him 
go in quest of FafmVs gold, of which he gave him the fol 
lowing account. 

" Hreidmar had three sons, Fafnir (Fofnir,) Ottur, and 
Regin. Ottur could transform himself into an otter, under 
which form he was in the habit of catching fish in And- 
vari s water-fall, so called from a dwarf of that name. He 
was one day sitting with his eyes shut eating a salmon, 
when Odin, Hcenir, and Loki chanced to pass by. On 
seeing the otter, Loki cast a stone at it and killed it. 
The .ZEsir then skinned the otter, and came well satisfied 
with their prize to Hreidmar s dwelling. There they were 
seized, and compelled to redeem themselves with as much 
gold as would both fill and cover the otter s skin. To ob 
tain the gold, Loki borrowed Ran s 1 net, cast it into the 
water-fall, and caught in it the dwarf Andvari, who was 
accustomed to fish there under the form of a pike. The 
dwarf was compelled to give all his gold as the price of 
his liberty ; but on Loki taking from him his last ring, he 
1 See p. 27. 


foretold that it should prove the bane of all its possessors. 
With this gold the JSsir enclosed the otter s skin ; but on 
Hreidmar perceiving a hair of the beard still uncovered, 
Odin threw on it the ring of Andvari. Fafnir afterwards 
slew his father, took all the gold, and became one of the 
worst of serpents, and now watched over his treasure." 

Sigurd then requested Regin to forge him a sword. He 
forged two, but their blades would not stand proof. Si 
gurd then brought him the fragments of Sigmund s sword, 
of which he forged one that could cleave an anvil and cut 
through floating wool. Armed with this weapon, Sigurd 
went forth, first to his maternal uncle Grip, who foretold 
him his destiny. He then sailed with a chosen army to 
avenge his father s death on the sons of Hunding. During 
a storm they were hailed by an old man, from a point of 
land, whom they took on board. He told them his name 
was Hnikar 1 , together with much other matter. The storm 
then abated, and as he stept on shore, he vanished. Hun- 
ding s sons with a large army encountered Sigurd, but 
were all slain, and Sigurd returned with great honour. 

Sigurd was now impatient to slay the serpent, whose 
lair had been pointed out to him by llegin. An old long- 
bearded man warned him to beware of the monster s blood. 
Sigurd pierces Fafnir through, who, nevertheless, holds a 
long conversation with his slayer, in which he answers the 
latter s questions relative to the Norns and ^Esir, but 
strives in vain to dissuade him from taking the gold 2 . 

After the death of Fafnir, Regin, who had concealed 
himself, came forth, drank of Fafnir s blood, cut out his 

1 This was Odin, one of whose numerous names was Hnikar (see p. 15, 
note), under which he appears as a marine deity. 

2 On receiving the fatal wound, Fafnir demanded to know the name of 
his murderer, which Sigurd at first declined giving him, in the belief (as 
Bishop Miiller supposes) then prevalent, that the words of a dying man 
possessed great power, when he cursed his enemy by name. See Edda 
Saem. p. 186. 


heart with the sword named Rithil, and requested Sigurd 
to roast it for him. As Sigurd touched the heart with his 
finger, a drop by chance lighted on his tongue, and he in 
stantly understood the language of birds. He heard an 
eagle 1 tell its companion that Sigurd would act wisely, if 
he himself were to eat the serpent s heart. Another eagle 
said, that Regin would deceive him. A third, that he 
ought to slay Regin. A fourth, that he ought to take the 
serpent s gold, and ride to the wise Brynhild at Hindar- 
fiall. All these feats Sigurd performs, and rides off with 
the treasure on Grants back 2 . 

Sigurd now bent his course southwards to Frakland 3 , 
and rode a long time, until he came to Hindarfiall, where 
he saw before him a light flaring up to the sky, and a 
shield-burgh, within which he found a damsel sleeping in 
complete armour, whose corselet seemed to have grown 
fast to her body. On Sigurd ripping up the corselet with 
his sword, the maiden awoke, and said that she was a Val- 
kyria and named Brynhild 4 , that Odin had condemned 
her to that state of sleep by pricking her with a sleep- 
thorn 5 , because, contrary to his will, she had aided king 
Agnar (or Audbrod) in waiyand slain king Hialmgunnar. 

Sigurd begged her to give him some instruction, and 
she taught him the power of runes, and gave him lessons 

1 The word ig>a signifies the female eagle, though it may also signify 
swallow, owl, partridge. 

2 Among which were the famed (Egir-hialm, which Fafnir was wont to 
wear while brooding over the treasure, a golden corselet, and the sword 

3 That is Frankenland, the land of the Franks, Franconia. 

4 According to the Brynhildar-kviSa I., she was named Sigurdrifa, an 
other name, it is said, of Brynhild. From this passage it appears that 
Odin received mortals of royal race into his band of Valkyriur. 

5 Svefn->orn, spina soporifera. A superstition not yet wholly extinct 
in Denmark and Iceland. It was supposed that a person could not be 
wakened out of this sleep as long as the thorn lay on his body or remained 
sticking in his clothes. 


for his conduct in life. They engaged on oath to marry 
each other, and Sigurd took his departure. His shield 
blazed with the red gold, on it was depicted a dragon, dark 
brown above, and bright red beneath, a memorial of the 
monster he had slain, which the Vserings call Fafnir. Si 
gurd s hair was brown, and fell in long locks, his beard 
short and thick ; few could look on his piercing eyes. He 
was so tall that, when girded with his sword Gram, which 
was seven spans long, he went through a ripe rye field, 
the knob of his sword-sheath still stood forth. When all 
the stoutest warriors and greatest captains are spoken of, 
he is mentioned the first, and his name is current in all 

Sigurd rode on until he came to a spacious mansion, 
the rich lord of which was named Heimir. He was mar 
ried to a sister of Brynhild, named Bekhild (Bsenkhild) . 
Sigurd was received with pomp, and lived there a consi 
derable time in great honour. Brynhild was also there on 
a visit to her relations, and employed herself with embroi 
dering in gold the exploits of Sigurd the slaying of the 
serpent and carrying off the gold. 

It chanced one day that Sigurd s falcon flew and perched 
on the window of a high tower. On going in pursuit of 
it, Sigurd discovered Brynhild at her work. Hereupon he 
became thoughtful, and imparted to Heimir s son, Al- 
s with, what a beautiful woman he had seen embroidering 
his deeds. Alswith told him that it was Brynhild, Budlr s 
daughter; whereupon Sigurd observed, that only a few- 
days before he had learned that she was the most beauti 
ful woman in the world, and expressed his resolution to 
visit her, although Alswith informed him that she would 
never endure a husband, but that her thoughts were solely 
bent on warfare 1 . 

1 According to this account, Sigurd appears now to have seen Brynhild 
for the first time, which is completely at variance with what we have just 


She received him with great state and friendliness. 
When she presented to him the golden cup with wine, he 
seized her hand, and placed her by him, clasped her round 
the neck, kissed her, and said, " No woman born is fairer 
than thou." She answered, " It is not prudent to place 
one s happiness in the power of women : they too often 
break their vows." "The happy day will come/ said 
Sigurd, "that we may enjoy each other." Brynhild an 
swered that such was not the will of fate, for that she was 
a shield-maid. Sigurd replied, "It were best for both 
that we lived together. The pain I now feel is harder to 
endure than sharp weapons." Brynhild said, " I shall go 
to the battle-field, and thou wilt marry Gudrun, king 
Giuki s daughter." " No king s daughter," said Sigurd, 
" shall seduce me ; nor am I given to fickleness. I swear 
to thee by the gods, that I will have thee to wife, and none 
other." Brynhild also expressed herself in words to the 
same purpose. Sigurd expressed his gratitude, gave her 
Andvari s ring, swore anew, and went away to his people. 
There was a king named Giuki, who dwelt south of the 
Rhine. He had three sons, Gunnar, Hogni, and Guttorm. 
Gudrun (GuSrun) his daughter was fairest of maidens. 
Her mother was the noted sorceress Grimhild. Gudrun 
dreamed that a most beautiful falcon came to her hand ; 
she thereupon became thoughtful : it was said to betoken 
some king s son. Gudrun betook herself to the wise 
Brynhild, sister to the wicked king Atli, that she might 
hear her interpretation. Gudrun was, however, reserved 
towards her, and simply inquired the names of the 
mightiest kings and their exploits. Brynhild named Haki 
and Hagbard, but Gudrun thought they were too inactive 

read of their previous meeting and mutual vows. Either Sigurdrifa is a 
different personage from Brynhild, or the story of Sigurd s first interview 
with her is a fragment of some lost version of the legend, varying consi 
derably from what is extant in the Eddas.and the Volsunga Saga. 


in avenging their sister, who had been carried off by Sigar. 
Gudrun then named her own brothers, but Brynhild said 
that they had not yet proved themselves ; but that Sigurd 
Fafnisbana was the flower of all heroes. Gudrun then 
told her that she had dreamed of a beautiful hart, of which 
all were in chase, but which she alone overtook, and that 
Brynhild killed it in her lap. Brynhild then recounted to 
her her whole future destiny, and Gudrun returned to 
Guild s palace. 

Thither shortly after came Sigurd, riding on Grani with 
all his treasure. Grimhild conceived such an attachment 
to him that she was desirous he should marry her daugh 
ter; and therefore gave him a charmed potion, which 
caused him to forget Brynhild, to swear fellowship with 
Gunnar and Hogni, and to marry Gudrun 1 . 

When Sigurd and the sons of Giuki had traversed far 
and wide over the country, and performed many great 
feats, Grimhild persuaded her son Gunnar to woo Bryn 
hild, Budli s daughter, who was still dwelling with Heimir 
in Hlindal. Her maiden -bower was encircled with glowing 
tire, and she would marry that man only who should ride 
through it. The princes rode thither, but Gunnar could 
not force his horse over the fire. He and Sigurd then ex 
changed forms, and the latter on Grani traversed the flames 
and made love to Brynhild as though he were Gunnar, 
son of Giuki. Brynhild, though sore against her will, was 
obliged to fulfil her engagement. For three nights they 
slept in the same bed, but Sigurd laid the sword Gram 
between them 2 . He took Andvarr s ring from her hand, 
and gave her in return one from Fafnir s treasure. After 

1 Sigurd gave her a piece of Fafnir s heart to eat, which rendered her 
more obdurate than before. 

~ Remains of this custom are, it is said, still to be traced in some of the 
Danish isles, South Jutland, Holstein and Norway. Such nights were 
called Provensetter, Probe naclite, nights of trial or proof. 


these events, Sigurd rode back to his comrades, and re 
sumed his own form. 

Brynhild related to her foster-father, Heimir, how Gim- 
nar had ridden through the fire and made love to her, and 
how certain she till then had felt that Sigurd alone, to 
whom she had vowed eternal constancy, could have ac 
complished the adventure. Then commending Aslaug, her 
daughter by Sigurd, to the guardianship of Heimir, she 
returned to her father, Budli, and the celebration of her 
marriage with Gunnar lasted many days. Not until it was 
over did Sigurd call to memory the oaths he had sworn to 
Brynhild, but let all pass off quietly. 

It happened one day that Brynhild and Gudrun went 
to the llhine to bathe. On Brynhild going further out 
in the water, Gudrun asked the cause. She answered, 
" Neither here nor anywhere else will I stand by side of 
thee. My father was more powerful than thine, my hus 
band has performed greater feats than thine, and has 
ridden through the glowing fire. Thy husband was king 
Hialprek s thrall." Hereupon Gudrun gave her to under 
stand that it was her husband that had ridden through the 
fire, had passed three nights with her, had taken Andvari s 
ring from her, which she herself then wore. At this in 
telligence Brynhild grew deadly pale, and uttered not a 
word. The following day the two queens began jarring 
again about their husbands superiority, when Gudrun de 
clared that what had been sung of Sigurd s victory over 
the serpent was of greater worth than all king Gunnar s 
realm. Brynhild now went and lay down as one dead. 
When Gunnar came to her she upbraided him with his and 
his mother s deceit, and attempted his life. Hogni caused 
her to be bound, but Gunnar ordered her to be loosed. 
She would engage in no occupation, but filled the palace 
with loud lamentations. Gudrun sent Sigurd to her, to 
whom she poured forth all her grief, and said that she hated 


Gunnar, and wished Sigurd were murdered. On the lat 
ter saying it had afflicted him that she was not his wife, 
and that he would even then marry her, she answered that 
she would rather die than be faithless to Gunnar. She 
had sworn to marry the man that should ride over the fire : 
that oath she would keep sacred or die. Sigurd said, 
" Sooner than thou shalt die I will forsake Gudrun." His 
sides heaved so violently that his corselet burst asunder. 
" I will neither have thee nor any other man/ said Bryn- 
hild ; and Sigurd took his departure. 

Brynhild threatened to leave Gunnar, if he did not 
murder Sigurd and his child. Gunnar was bewildered. 
Hogni dissuaded him from compliance with the will of 
Brynhild. At length Gunnar said there was no alterna 
tive, as Sigurd had dishonoured Brynhild 1 . They would, 
therefore, instigate their brother Guttorm (who had not 
sworn brotherly fellowship with Sigurd) to do the deed. 
For this purpose they gave him a dish composed of wolf s 
and serpent s flesh ; after which, being urged on by Bryn 
hild, Guttorm stabbed Sigurd while slumbering 2 , but was 
himself cut asunder by the sword Gram, which his victim 
hurled after him. Gudrun mourned over her murdered 
consort, but Brynhild laughed at her grief. Gunnar and 
Hogni reproached her for her malignity, but she set before 

1 It would seem that Brynhild had feigned the story of her own dis 
honour, for the purpose of instigating the Giukings to murder Sigurd, as 
she is afterwards made to say, " We slept together in the same bed as if 
he had been my own brother. Neither of us during eight nights laid a 
hand on the other." At the same time, however, we read that Brynhild, 
when on the eve of her marriage with Gunnar, committed Aslaug, her 
daughter by Sigurd, to the care of her foster-father Heimir. Aslaug was 
afterwards married to Ragnar Lodbrok, whence it seems not improbable 
that the latter story was invented for the purpose of connecting the line 
of Danish kings with Sigurd and Brynhild. See Edda Ssem., pp. 229, 203. 

2 According to other narratives, Sigurd was murdered on his way to the 
public assembly (>ing). According to the German tradition, he was slain 
in a forest. See Edda Saem., p. 210. 


them their baseness towards Sigurd, and their deceit to- 
wards herself; nor did she suffer herself to be appeased 
by Gunnar s caresses, but after having given away her 
gold, stabbed herself. She now again foretold the fate of 
Gudrun, and commanded her body to be burnt by the side 
of Sigurd s, on the same pile, enclosed with hangings and 
shields, and the sword Gram between them 1 , together 
with those of his three years old son, whom she herself 
had murdered, and of Guttorm ; on her other side, her 
own attendants, two at her head and two at her feet, be 
sides two hawks. She then mounted the pile. 

Gudrun mourned for the death of Sigurd ; Grani, his 
horse, hung down his head in sorrow. Gudrun fled to the 
forest, and came at length to king Hialprek in Denmark, 
where with Thora, the daughter of Hakon, she embroi 
dered the exploits of heroes 2 . After the death of Sigurd, 
Gunnar and Hogni possessed themselves of his whole trea 
sure, which was called Fafnir s inheritance. Enmity now 
ensued between the Giukings and Atli, who accused them 
of having caused the death of his sister Brynhild. As a 
peace-offering, it was agreed that Gudrun should be given 
in marriage to Atli. Grimhild, having discovered her re 
treat, rode thither, accompanied by her sons and a nume 
rous retinue of Langobards, Franks and Saxons. Gudrun 
would not listen to them. Grimhild then gave her an ob 
livious potion 3 , and thereby gained her consent to a union 

1 In the prose introduction to the Helreift Brynhildar, it is said there 
were two piles. Brynhild s corpse was laid on the pile in a chariot hung 
with silken curtains. Asuitus, a prince mentioned by Saxo (edit. Miiller, 
p. 244), was buried with a dog and a horse. 

2 Also Danish swans, southern palaces, noble sports, kings retainers, 
red shields, Sigmund s ships with gilded and sculptured prows. Goft. 
Harmr, Str. 13-16. 

3 "A drink cold and bitter mingled with Urd s power, with chill 
ing water and blood of Son. In that horn were characters of all kinds 
cut, red of hue, which I could not interpret." Ib. Str. 21, 22. Whether the 


with Atli, from which she foreboded evil. They travelled 
durino- four days on horseback, but the women were placed 
in carriages; then four days in a ship, and again four 
days by land, ere they came to Atli s residence, where the 
nuptials were solemnized with great splendour : 
drun never smiled on Atli. 

One night Atli dreamed ill-boding dreams, but i 
interpreted them favourably. It then occurred to his re 
membrance that the Giukings had kept possession of all 
Si-urd s gold, and he therefore sent Vingi to invite t 
toa banquet; but Gudrun, who had noticed what had 
passed between him and his messenger, cut runes and sent 
them to her brothers, together with a gold ring, in which 
some wolf s hair was twined. Vingi altered the runes be 
fore he stept on shore. He made great promises to the 
Giukings, if they would visit King Atli. Gunnar had but 
little inclination for the journey, and Hogni was opposed 
to it ; but being overcome by wine at the protracted feast 
given to Vingi, Gunnar was led to pledge himself to the 


In the mean time, Kostbera, Hogni s wife, had read the 
runes sent by Gudrun, and discovered that they had been 
falsified. She strove to dissuade her husband from the 
journey and related to him her terrific dreams, which he 
interpreted in a contrary sense. Glaumvor also, Gunnar s 
queen, dreamed of treachery, but Gunnar said that no one 
could avert his destiny. Though all would dissuade them, 
they, nevertheless, stept on board with Vingi, attended by 
a few only of their own people. They rowed so lustily 
that half the keel burst and their oars were broken. They 
then travelled a while through a gloomy forest, where they 
saw a powerful army, notwithstanding which they opened 

norn Urd is here alluded to is extremely doubtful, and almost equally so 
is the allusion to Son, though the vessel containing the skaldic or poetic 
mead may be intended, for which see p. 40. 


the gate of the fastness and rode in. Vingi now gave them 
to understand that they had been beguiled, whereupon 
they slew him with their maces. 

King Atli now commanded his people to seize them in 
the hall. On hearing the clash of arms, Gudrun cast her 
mantle aside, entered the hall, and having embraced her 
brothers, endeavoured to mediate, but in vain. She then 
put on a corselet, took a sword, and shared in the conflict 
like the stoutest champion. The battle lasted long, Atli 
lost many of his warriors. At length, the two brothers 
alone survived of their whole party : they were overpowered 
and bound. Atli commanded Hognr s heart to be cut out, 
though his counsellors would have taken that of the thrall 
Hialli ; but as he cried out when they were about to lay 
hands on him, Hogni said it was a game he recked little 
of, so the thrall for the moment escaped. Gunnar and 
Hogni were set in chains. It was Atli s wish that Gunnar 
should save his life by disclosing where the gold was de 
posited; but he answered, " Sooner would I see my bro 
ther Hognr s bloody heart." They then again seized on 
the thrall, cut out his heart, and laid it before Gunnar. 
;c This," said he, is the heart of a coward, unlike the 
brave Hognr s ; for even now it trembles, though less by 
half than when in its owner s breast." They then cut out 
the heart of Hogni, who laughed under the process. On 
seeing that it did not tremble, Gunnar recognised it for 
Hogni s, and said that now he alone knew where the gold 
was hidden, and that the Rhine should possess it rather 
than his enemies wear it on their fingers. Gunnar was 
then confined, with his hands bound, in a yard filled with 
serpents. Gudrun sent him a harp, which he played with 
his feet, so that all the serpents were lulled to sleep save 
one viper, which fixed itself on him and stung him to the 
heart 1 . 

1 This was Atli s mother so transformed. See Oddrunar Gratr, Str. 30. 

F 5 


Elated with his victory, Atli scoffed at Gudrun ; but on 
perceiving her exasperation, he sought to appease her. 
She removed his doubts and suspicions by her assumed 
gentleness, and a sumptuous grave-ale 1 was ordered in 
memory of the fallen. Gudrun now took her two young 
sons, who were at play, and cut their throats. "When Ath 
inquired for his children, she answered that their skulls, 
set in gold and silver, had been turned into drinking cups, 
that in his wine he had drunk their blood, and eaten then- 
hearts in his food. Hogni s son, Niflung, thirsting to 
avenge his father, consulted with Gudrun ; and when Atli, 
after his repast, lay down to sleep, they slew him 2 . Gud 
run then caused the palace to be surrounded with fire, and 
burnt all Atli s people. 

Gudrun then plunged into the sea, but the waves bore 
her to land, and she came to the city of the great king 
Jonakur, who married her, and had by her three sons, 
Hamdir (Ham)>ir), Sorli, and Erp (Erpr). Svanhild, 
Gudrun s daughter by Sigurd, was also bred up there. 
The mighty king Jormunrek, having heard of SvanhihVs 
beauty, sent his son Randve, together with his counsellor 
Biki, to woo her for him. She was married to him against 

1 Old Norse Erfiol, Dan. Arve-61, Welsh Aruyl. A funeral feast held 
in honour of the dead by the heir (0. N. arfr, Ger. Erbe). It was believed 
that the dead were present at their grave-ale. In the Eyrbyggiasaga a 
story connected with this superstition will be found, which being too long 
for insertion here, the reader is referred to Sir Walter Scott s extract in 
the Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, p. 507, and in Bohn s edition 
of Mallet s Northern Antiquities, p. 536. 

2 See the account of Atli s death and funeral in Jornandes, ch xxv. The 
relation here given accords in some measure with what we find in the 
Byzantine writers, viz. Marcellinus Comes writes, Attilam noctu mulieris 
manu cultroque confossum. According to others, nimio vino et somno 
gravatus, et copioso sanguinis profluvio obundatus, inventus est mortuus in 
lecto, acculans mulieri, qua de ejus nece suspecfa Tiabita est. John Malala 
says that a certain armour-bearer slew Attila. See Edda Samundar, edit. 
Copenhagen, ii. 954. 


the will of Gudrun. As they were sailing home, Biki 
instigated Randve to speak in terms of tenderness to 
Svanhild, saying it was more suitable for a young man 
than for the old king to possess so fair a maiden. After 
their arrival Biki told the king that Svanhild was Rand, 
ve s mistress; whereupon the king ordered Randve to 
be hanged. When led to the gallows he plucked some 
feathers from a hawk and sent them to his father, who 
understanding them to signify that he had parted with 
his honour, commanded his son to be taken down ; but 
Biki had so contrived that he was already dead. At Biki s 
instigation, Svanhild was also condemned to an ignomini 
ous death. She was placed bound at the city gate, to be 
trampled to death by horses. When she turned her eyes 
on them, they refused to tread on her; but Biki caused a 
sack to be drawn over her head, and thus terminated her 
existence 1 . 

Gudrun urged her sons, Sorli and Hamdir, to avenge 
their sister, and poured forth loud lamentations over her 
unhappy fate. The sons departed cased in mail that no 
steel could penetrate, but their mother warned them to 
beware of stone. On the way they met their brother 
Erp, whom they asked what help he would afford ? He 
answered, he would so help them as the hand helps the 
hand and the foot the foot. At this they were dissatisfied 

1 According to Saxo (edit. Miiller, 414), Jarmericus was a king of Den- 
mark and Sweden. His story differs widely from that in the Eddas and 
Volsunga Saga. Of Svanhild (whom he calls Swavilda) he says, " Hanc 
taritae fuisse pulchritudinis fama est, ut ipsis quoque jumentis horrori foret 
artus eximio decore praeditos sordidis lacerare vestigiis. Quo argumento 
rex innocentiam conjugis declarari conjectans, accedente erroris pcenitentia, 
falso notatam festinat absolvere. Advolat interea Bicco, qui supinam 
jumenta diris deturbare carminibus nee nisi pronam obteri posse firmaret. 
Quippe earn formae suae beneficio servatam sciebat. In hunc modum col- 
locatum reginae corpus adactus jumentorum grex crebris alte vestigiis fodit. 
Hie Swavildae exitus fuit." 


and slew him. Shortly after Hamdir stumbled, and, sup 
porting himself by his hand, exclaimed, "Erp said truly; 
I should have fallen, had I not supported myself by my 
hand/ They had proceeded but a few steps further when 
Sorli stumbled with one foot ; " I should have fallen," said 
he, "had I not stood on both/ When they came to 
Jormunrek they immediately assailed him. Hamdir cut 
off his hands, Sorli his feet. Hamdir said, " His head 
would also have been smitten off, had Erp been with us/ 
Against Joramnrek s men, who now attacked them, they 
fought valiantly, their armour being impenetrable to steel, 
until an old man with one eye came and counselled the 
men to stone them, and thus caused their destruction 1 . 

Or RAGNAR AND TnoiiA 2 . Wide-spread over all the 
North was the story of Jarl Heraud of Gothland s youthful 
daughter, Thora, though more generally known by the 
appellation of Borgar-hjort (the Hind of the Castle), 
which was bestowed on her because, unlike the bold Ama 
zons (shield-maidens) of that age, she rather resembled a 
tender, timid hind ; and being at the same time exquisitely 
fair and amiable, her father placed her in a strong castle, 
instead of a maiden-bower. By some it is related that 
her castle was guarded by a warrior named Orm, but ac 
cording to the Saga : " Heraud once gave his daughter a 
dragon in a little box, in which it lay coiled up, and under 
it placed gold. The serpent grew, and with it the gold, 
so that it was found necessary to remove it out of the 
castle. At length it became a formidable monster, en 
circling the whole castle, so that no one could enter save 
such as gave it food." Hereupon the jarl held a council, 

1 In the battle of Bravalla, the Danish king, Harald Hildetan, is said to 
have heen slain by Odin, under the form of Harald s own general. See 
Grater s Suhrn, ii. 284 ; Saxo, p. 390. 

- Not having either Ragnar Lodbrok s Saga or the Volsunga-Saga at 
command, the editor has taken these traditions from Afzelius Sago-Hafder 
and Muller s Sagabibliothek. 


and promised that whosoever should slay the monster 
should have his daughter to wife. Ragnar, son of king 
Sigurd of Sweden,, who won the famous battle of Bravalla, 
having heard of this, caused five woollen cloaks and hose 
to be made, and boiled in pitch 1 . He then encountered 
the dragon, or, as it is also related, the bear, that guarded 
fair Borgar-hjort s dwelling, which after much peril and 
fatigue he overcame. Lodbrok left his spear sticking in 
the dragon s back, but took the shaft in his hand, with 
which he went up to the castle, to the beautiful Thora, 
whom he thus addressed : 

My youthful life I ve ventured, 
My age of fifteen years ; 
The hateful worm I Ve slaughter d 
For thee, thou beauteous maid. 

He then went before the jarl, and demanded the fulfil 
ment of his promise, proving himself the liberator of his 
daughter by the shaft, which he held in his hand, belong 
ing to the spear remaining in the dragon s body. It now 
appeared that he was the young King Ragnar, son of 
Sigurd. Their marriage was solemnized in a manner 
befitting their rank. By his wife, Thora Borgar-hjort, 
Ragnar had two sons, Eric andAgnar; but he did not 
long enjoy his happiness : Thora died, and Ragnar, lea 
ving his states under the government of his sons and cer 
tain wise men, again betook himself to a roving life on the 
ocean, that in the society of his vikings he might drown 
or mitigate his sorrow for the loss of one whom he had so 
tenderly loved. 

OF RAGNAR AND ASLAUG. When Heimir of Hlindal 2 
was informed of the death of Sigurd and Brynhild, and that 

1 His garb was singular, and gave him a ferocious appearance : from his 
sailor s breeches, made of wild beasts skins, he acquired the surname of 
Lodbrok, from lod (shayginess), and brok (breeches). 

2 See p. 98. 


it was intended to destroy their daughter, who had been 
reared by him, he caused a large harp to be made, in 
which he concealed the child together with many jewels, 
and wandered forth towards the north. He gave her an 
onion to taste, which has the property of sustaining life 
for a considerable time. Heimir is described as of a gi 
gantic, majestic figure, though his garments but ill ac 
corded with his mien, being those of a beggar or beads 
man, while his manners and the melodious tones of his 
harp proved him to be something widely different. When 
ever he came to a lonely spot in wood or field, he would 
take the child out to divert itself; but if it cried within 
the harp, when he was in the company of others, or in any 
house, he would play and sing, until the little one was 
appeased and silent. 

Heimir with his harp came late one evening to a little, 
lonely dwelling in Norway, called Spangarhede 1 , in which 
lived an old man named Aki and his wife Grima. The 
crone was sitting alone, and could hardly be induced to 
kindle a fire on the hearth, that Heimir might warm him 
self. Her eyes were constantly fixed on the harp, in con 
sequence of a piece of a costly garment that protruded 
from it ; but her suspicion rose still higher when, from 
under the fringes of the harper s coat, she observed, when 
he stretched out his arms towards the fire, a bright, gold 
armlet. Heimir was then shown to a chamber, where, 
wearied with his journey, he soon fell into a profound 
sleep. At night the peasant returned. Wearied with the 
toils of the day, he was displeased at not finding his sup 
per ready, and bitterly complained of the poor man s lot. 
Hereupon the old woman said to him that in that very 

1 A tongue of land near Lindesnaes, where the names still exist of Krake- 
baek and Guldvig, which, as the people say, are so called after the king s 
daughter that was concealed in a golden harp. Krakuraal, edit. Rafn, 
Forord, p. 1. 


moment he might better his condition for the rest of his 
life,, if he would murder the stranger, who, as she had 
seen, had much gold and many precious things in his 
harp. At first the old man shrank from the perpetration 
of so base a deed, but was finally induced to murder 
Heimir in his sleep. When on opening the harp the little 
Aslaug came forth, they were terrified arid would no doubt 
have murdered her, had not her prepossessing countenance 
awakened their conscience ; but to prevent suspicion, they 
clothed her, as if she had been their own, in coarse gar 
ments, and called her Kraka. Years rolled on, and Kraka 
grew up and was distinguished for her understanding and 
beauty. The greater part of her time was passed in the 
woods, where she tended her foster-father s cattle. Of her 
descent she retained a lively remembrance from what at 
various times had been told her by Heimir ; though with 
her foster-parents she pretended to be dumb, never utter 
ing a syllable. 

One evening Ragnar entered the port near Spangarhede, 
and sent some of his crew on shore to bake bread. When 
they came back, it was found that the bread was burnt 
and spoiled. They excused themselves to the king by 
saying that they had been quite bewildered by a country 
lass, named Kraka, who was so beautiful that they could 
not turn their eyes away from her : they thought, indeed, 
that she was quite as fair as Thora Borgar-hjort. They 
further related much of her excellent understanding and 
wit. Ragnar was now desirous of testing these accounts, 
and sent an order that Kraka should come to him in his 
ship, but not alone, nor yet in company with any one ; 
not clad, yet not without clothing ; not fasting, nor yet 
without having eaten. All this she accomplished, though 
not until she had received the king s assurance of a safe- 
conduct both coming and going. She came clad in a net, 
with her thick, flowing hair spread over her like a mantle ; 


she was attended only by a dog, and had tasted an onion, 
but eaten nothing. The king was no less astonished at 
her wit and understanding than at her beauty. He pre 
ferred a prayer to Odin, that she might be inspired with 
such love for him as at once to yield to his wishes. But 
Kraka prized her honour too highly and spurned his suit. 
He tried to prevail on her with the gift of an embroidered 
kirtle that had belonged to his deceased queen, saying : 

Art thou skill d in such ? 

Wilt thou accept 

This kirtle silver- wrought ? 

Well would become thee 

The garment once 

Own d by fair Borgar-hjort. 

Her lily hands 

Wove the curious texture. 

To me, chief of heroes, 

Faithful she was till death. 

Kraka answered : 

I may not take 

The kirtle silver-wrought, 

Which Borgar-hjort once own d. 

I am call d Kraka, 

Coal-black in vadmel 1 j 

For I must ever traverse stones 

And tend the goats 

On the sea-shore. 

Astonished at what he heard and saw, the king would 
now, by promises of marriage, persuade her to stay the 
night with him; but as she was inexorable, he was too 
honourable to break the promise he had given her. Finally, 
however, Kraka agreed that if the king should return in 
the same frame of mind of making her his queen, she 
would be ready to accompany him. After some time the 
king returned, when Kraka, bidding her foster-parents 

1 A coarse woollen stuff made in Norway and Iceland. 


farewell, accompanied him to his castle, where their mar 
riage was solemnized with all royal pomp. 

It once happened that Ragnar visited his friend, King 
Osten, at Upsala. In the evening Osten s young daughter 
went I ound the hall presenting mead and wine to Ragnar 
and his men. The king was smitten with the beauty of 
the young princess, and his followers represented to him 
how much more befitting it would be for him to possess 
the fair daughter of a royal house than Kraka, the daughter 
of a peasant. It was then agreed on by both kings that 
Ragnar should return home, dismiss Kraka, and come 
back and marry the daughter of Osten. When this came 
to the knowledge of Kraka, she disclosed to the king her 
real name of Aslaug, and that she was the daughter of 
King Sigurd and Brynhild, and the last descendant of the 
renowned race of the Volsungs ; how that Heimir, after 
the mournful fate of her parents, had fled with her from 
their enemies and concealed her in his harp, until he was 
murdered by Aki at Spangarhede, from which time she 
had borne the name of Kraka. Awakened from his dream 
by this narrative, and touched by her proved affection, 
Ragnar returned no more to Upsala. All friendship with 
King Osten was now at an end, and from that time Aslaug 
became fierce and vindictive, like all of her race. 

DRAUG. THE FYLGIA was a tutelar angel or attendant 
spirit attached either to a single individual or to a whole 
race. To a person at the point of death the Fylgia be 
came visible. " Thou must be a fated (moribundus) man, 
thou must have seen thy Fylgia," said an Icelander to one 
labouring under an optical delusion ] . The Fylgia some 
times appeared to another person. Hedin, we read, re 
turning home one Yule eve, met in the forest a Troll -wife 
riding on a wolf, with a rein formed of serpents, who 

1 Nial s Saga, 41. 


offered to bear him company. On relating the incident 
to his brother Helgi, the latter foresaw his own approach 
ing end, for he knew that it was his Fylgia that had ac 
costed his brother, under the form of a woman on a wolf. 
When a person was dead or near death, his Fylgia was 
desirous to follow his nearest relative, or one of the family. 
When a person s own Fylgia appeared to him bloody, it 
betokened a violent death l . 

Identical apparently with the Fylgia are the HAM 
(HAMR, INDUVIJE) and the HAMINGIA. In the Atlamal 2 , 
Kostbera dreams that she saw the Ham or genius of Atli 
enter the house under an eagle s form, and sprinkle them 
all with blood. In the VafJ?rudnismal and Vegtams-qutya 3 , 
the Hammgior are identical with the Norns. 

Connected with the foregoing is our own superstition 
about a child s caul. In Germany, children born with 
this membrane are regarded as fortunate 4 , and the mem 
brane itself is carefully preserved, or sewed in a girdle for 
the child to wear. Among the Icelanders this caul also 
bears the name of fylgia ; they fancy that the guardian 
angel, or a part of the infant s soul dwells in it : the mid- 
wives, consequently, are careful not to injure it, but bury 
it under the threshold, over which the mother must walk. 
Whoever throws it away, or burns it, deprives the child of 
its guardian angel. Such a guardian is called Fylgia, be 
cause it is supposed to follow the individual ; it is also 
called FORYNIA, from being likewise regarded as a fore 
runner 5 . 

Traditions of, and a belief in, beings, of which every 
person has one as an attendant, are universal over the 
greatest part of Norway, though the name and the idea 

1 Keyser, p, 157. 2 Str. 20. 3 str. 48, 49; Str. 17. 

4 See the story of the Deyil with the three Golden Hairs, in the Kinder 
und Hausniarchen, No. 29. 

5 Grimm, D. M. p. 828. 


vary in different localities. In some places it is called FOL 
or VARDOIEL, and sometimes HAM or HAU. 

In some districts the Vardogl is regarded as a good 
spirit, that always accompanies a person, and wards off 
from him all dangers and mishaps ; for which reason 
people are scrupulous about following a person out, or 
looking after him, or closing the door as soon as he is 
gone, lest they should prevent the Vardogl from following 
its master, who, in its absence, is exposed to mischances 
and temptations, and even to the risk of falling into the 
clutches of an evil spirit called the Thusbet, which also 
follows every mortal. 

In other places, the Folgie or Vardogl is looked upon 
rather as a warning attendant, who by knocking at the 
door or window, tapping on the wall, rattling the latch, 
etc., gives notice of the coming of an acquaintance, or that 
one is longing to come, or that a misfortune or a death l 
is at hand. When the Folgie shows itself, it is generally 
in the form of an animal, whose qualities bear a resem 
blance to those of the individual. The dauntless has, there 
fore, for Folgie a bold animal, as a wolf, a bear, an eagle, 
etc. ; the crafty, a fox, or a cat ; the timid, a hare, or the 
like. The Vardogl will sometimes appear under a human 
form resembling its master, but immediately vanishes; 
whence it is that the same person is seen at the same time 
in two places. One of these forms is the Folgie, which 
will sometimes also appear to the individual himself, who, 
in that case, is said to see his own double 2 . A still more 
extraordinary case is that of a lad who tumbled over his 
own Fylgia. In Fornmanna Sogur (3. 113) we are told 

1 Hallager, Norsk Ordsamling, p. 141. 

2 The Icelander Thidrandi saw nine women clad in black, come riding 
from the north, and nine others, in light garments, from the south. They 
were the Fylgiur of his kindred. 


that when Thorsten Oxefod was yet a child of seven years, 
he once came running into the room and fell on the floor ; 
whereat the wise old man Geiter burst into a laugh. On 
the boy asking what he saw so laughable in his fall, he 
said, " I saw what you did not see. When you came into 
the room, a young white bear s cub followed you and ran 
before you, but on catching sight of me, he stopt, and as 
you came running you fell over him." This was Thor- 
sten s own Fylgia. 

If a person is desirous of knowing what animal he has 
for a Vardogl, he has only to wrap a knife in a napkin, 
with certain ceremonies, and to hold it up while he names 
all the animals he knows of. As soon as he has named 
his Folgie, the knife will fall out of the napkin. 

Our old divines assumed, in like manner, that every 
person has an attendant or guardian genius. In the Jern- 
postil (edit. 1513, p. 142) it is said : " The moment any 
man is born in the world, our Lord sends an angel to pre 
serve his soul from the devil, and from all other evil ; " 
appealing, for support of the proposition, to the testimony 
of St. Jerome and St. Bernard 1 . 

Dis (pi. DisiR) is a generic name for all female, mythic 
beings, though usually applied to a man s attendant spirit 
or Folgie. Of these some are friendly, others hostile. 
The tutelar or friendly Disir are likewise called Spadisir, 
i. e. prophetic Disir : Scotice spae, as in spae-wife, a pro 
phetess, fortune-teller. In Norway the Disir appear to have 
been held in great veneration. In the Sagas frequent 
mention occurs of Disa blot, or offerings to the Disir. A 
part of their temples was denominated the Disa-sal (Disar- 
salr) 2 . 

V.ZETT (V^ETTR, pi. V^TTIR) in its original signification 
is neither more nor less than thing, being, wight, though in 
Scandinavia (particularly Norway and Iceland) it is used 
1 Faye, p. 76 sqg. 2 Keyser, p. 74. 


to signify a sort of female tutelary genius of a country, 
and then is called a LAND-V^ETT. In the Gulathing s 
law it is enjoined that " omni diligentia perquirant rex et 
episcopus ne exerceantur errores et superstitio ethnica, uti 
sunt incantationes et artes magicse .... si in Landvsettas 
(genios locorum) credunt quod tumulos aut cataractas in- 
habitent," etc. 1 The Landvsett assumes various forms. 
Hallager describes the Vsett as a Troll or Nisse inhabit 
ing mounds, which for that reason are called V^ETTE- 
HOUER. He resembles a young boy in grey clothes with 
a black hat 2 . The word is, nevertheless, feminine. In 
Ulfliot s law it was ordered that the head of every ship 
should be taken off before it came in sight of land, and 
that it should not sail near the land with gaping head and 
yawning beak, so as to frighten the Land-vsettir 3 . 

DRAUG (DRAUGR), a spectre. Odin is called Drauga 
Drott 4 (lord of spectres) because he could raise the dead 
from their graves (as in the Vegtams KvrSa). The appa 
rition to a person of his Draug forebodes his death. In 
the Hervarar Saga 5 , Draugar are spoken of as lying with 
the dead in their mounds. The Draug follows the person 
doomed whithersoever he goes, often as an insect, which 
in the evening sends forth a piping sound. He sometimes 
appears clad as a fisherman. Both the appearance of the 
Draug himself, as well as of his spittle (a sort of froth that 
is sometimes seen in boats) are omens of approaching 

1 Lex. Myth. p. 833. 2 Norsk Ordsamling, p. 145. 

3 Fornmanna Sogur, p. 105. Yngl. Saga, 7. 5 Edit. Suhra, p. 64. 




THE foregoing comprises what is most essential of the 
contents of the Eddas. On turning to the later inter 
pretations of these dark runes of the times of old, we meet 
with so many mutually contradicting illustrations, that it 
is hardly possible to extract anything like unity amid so 
much conflicting matter. The obscure language in which 
the mythology of the North is expressed, the images of 
which it is full, the darkness in which the first mental de 
velopment of every people is shrouded, and the difficulty 
of rendering clear the connection between their religious 
ideas all this leads every attempt at illustration some 
times in one and sometimes in another direction, each of 
which IIL .,, moreover, several by-ways and many wrong 

With regard to the importance and value of the Northern 
mythology, we meet with two widely different opinions. 
Some have considered the old Eddaic songs and traditions 
as mere fabrications, composed for pastime by ignorant 
monks in the middle age ; while others have pronounced 
them not only ancient, but have regarded their matter as 
so exalted, that even ideas of Christianity are reflected in 
them. That Christ, for instance, is figuratively delineated 
in Thor, who crushes the head of the serpent ; so that the 
Eddaic lore is an obscure sort of revelation before Revela 
tion. The first-mentioned of these opinions, though it 
may have blazed up for a moment, may be now regarded 
as totally and for ever extinguished ; for every one who 
reads the Eddas will at once perceive that the concord 
which exists between their several parts, notwithstanding 
that they are but fragments, the grandeur and poetic 
beauty, of which they in so many instances bear the im 
press, together with the old tongue in which the songs are 


composed, could not have been produced by ignorant 

The second opinion can only have arisen out of a blind 
predilection for antiquity ; for when we abstract the reli 
gious element which is common to all religions, and the 
descriptions of the destruction of the world, which are 
spread over the whole globe, we find in the Northern my 
thology not one trace of that which constitutes the essen 
tial in Christianity ; and the accidental resemblance va 
nishes on every closer consideration. The old religion of 
the inhabitants of the North is in fact neither a collection 
of absurdities and insipid falsehoods, nor a fountain of 
exalted wisdom ; but is the ideas of an uncultivated people, 
with reference to the relation between the divine and the 
worldly, expressed in images intelligible to the infant un 
derstanding. The present time must not expect to find in 
it either a revelation of new ideas, or a guide to the way of 
happiness ; even the poet of the present will fail to discover 
m it a source of inspiration, except in so far as it may 
supply him with a fitting dress for his own poetic images. 
In fact, the Eddaic lore is important, chiefly because it 
sheds light on the study of antiquity, on the development 
of the human mind in general, and of that of our fore 
fathers in particular. 

With respect to the interpretation itself, the expounders 
of the Eddas are divided into two sects : one will impart 
to us an illustration of what the ancients themselves 
thought of these myths, the other will show what may be 
thought of them. The first will seize the sense of a given 
poem, the second will try to discover what may further 
be imagined from it. The latter we shall at once dismiss ; 
for however beautiful and elevating their interpretations 
may be, and however much poetic application may be 
made of them, they will, nevertheless, not conduct us to, 
but from, antiquity, while it is precisely that which we 


wish, as much as possible, to become acquainted with in 
its whole purity. When these myths are, for example, 
considered not only with relation to the history of the 
North, but as universally historical ; when we, therefore, 
in the Northern mythology find figurative indications of 
the great epochs in the history of the world ; and in the 
several myths of nations particular manifestations of their 
fortunes in the course of time, it is clear that this is not 
truth but fiction. Though such notions of the Eddaic 
lore may have in themselves poetic value, though they may, 
in an agreeable manner, set the imagination in activity and 
give it a store of new images, yet will the understanding 
not allow itself to be set aside with impunity. If, there 
fore, they assume the semblance of a serious interpreta 
tion, they dissolve into airy nothingness, because they 
lack a firm foundation. Fiction may have its liberty, but 
research has its restraint. 

However widely the interpreters of the Eddas differ in 
their opinions from each other, and however faithless they 
sometimes are even to themselves, their illustrations may,, 
nevertheless, all be referred to three classes the historic, 
the physical, and the ethical : to the historic method, in 
as far as every nation s mythology and earliest history 
come in contact and melt into each other at their boun 
daries, and transgress each other s domain ; to the physical, 
because all mythology has nature and her manifestations 
for object ; to the ethical, because laws for the conduct of 
mankind are the final intent of all religion. 

The historic mode of illustration is the most circum 
scribed of all. As mythology embraces not only life phy 
sically and ethically considered, but also the creation and 
destruction of the world, the beginning and end of time, 
or eternity, we consequently find in it many elements 
that belong not to the province of history, and every at 
tempt to bring them within its pale must naturally prove 


abortive. This mode of illustration can, therefore, at best 
be applied only to the agency of natural beings the gods. 
It is divided into two branches. It may either be assumed 
that real men have been regarded as gods, or that super 
human beings have been considered as persons on the 
earth. Of these branches the first may be subdivided : 
the deified beings may be regarded as impostors and de 
ceivers, or as benefactors of mankind. 

That the gods, Odin and his friends, were mere de 
ceivers, magicians, and wizards (trollmen) ; that they 
dazzled the eyes of the people by their arts, and thereby 
induced them to believe whatever they deemed conducive 
to their worldly objects; that religion arose among the 
people, not as a necessity, but was a priestly imposture 
such was the opinion entertained in the Christian middle 
age of the ancient nlythology, all heathenism being con 
sidered a work of the devil, who through his ministers, 
the pagan priests, enlarged the realm of falsehood upon 
earth ; that the earliest human beings were giants of 
superhuman size and powers, after whom came others, less 
of stature, but excelling them in sagacity, who overcame 
them by sorcery, and gained for themselves the reputation 
of gods ; that their successors were a mixture of both, nei 
ther so large as the giants nor so crafty as the gods, though 
by the infatuated people they were worshiped as gods ; 
such was the belief in Saxo s time, who consequently sets 
forth the opinions just adduced, and speaks of Odin as of a 
being who had acquired for himself divine honours through 
out Europe, and after having fixed his residence at Upsala, 
he and his companions were there regarded as divine 
beings l . The first class of beings was of course Ymir 
and his offspring, the Frost-giants ; the second, Odin and 
his kindred; the third, the priests of the gods, who by 

1 Saxo Gram. pp. 42. sqq. 


fraud disseminated the doctrines of their predecessors, and 
raised themselves to the rank of gods. 

That these opinions found followers in the middle age 
may easily be conceived, but it may well seem extraor 
dinary that also in modern times they have had their de 
fenders, and that, by confounding the announcement by 
the priest of the pretended will of the gods with the divine 
beings themselves, any one could be satisfied with the 
persuasion, that priestly craft and deception have alone 
formed the entire circle of religious ideas, which are a na 
tural necessity among every people, and one of the earliest 
manifestations of man s reflection on himself and on the 

More probable is the opinion that, not deception, but 
real historical events have given rise to myths ; that the 
worship of Odin and his kin and companions in the North 
originated in the immigration of a sacerdotal caste ; that 
the priest s agency has, by the people themselves, been 
confounded with that of the god, whose minister he was ; 
that his undertakings and exertions for the civilization of 
the people, the evidences of his superior penetration and 
higher knowledge, have, after his death, been clad in a 
mythic garb ; and that thereby, partly through learning 
and partly from events, a series of myths has been framed, 
the elements of which now hardly admit of being sepa 
rated from each other. Such was the opinion of Snorri 
and other ancient writers, according to whom the gods 
were a sacerdotal caste from Asia, even from Troy ; Odin 
and his sons were earthly kings and priests ; Odin died in 
Sweden, and was succeeded by Niord; after the death of 
whose son, Frey, Freyia alone presided over the sacrifices, 
being the only one of the deities still living 1 . Such a 
deification of human beings is not without example in hi 
story; among the Greeks we meet with many historic 
1 Snorra-Edda, Form., Ynglingas. c. 2-13. 


personages, whom admiration of their brilliant qualities, 
and the fictions to which they have given birth, have raised 
to a superhuman dignity. Connected with this opinion 
stands the historico-geographic mode of illustration, ac 
cording to which the ideas concerning mythic beings are 
transferred to real actions in the North, and mythic tales 
of the warfare between gods and giants, and of the wan 
dering of the gods on earth, represented as memorials of 
a real war between those people, and of the M sir-religion s 
spread, from its chief seat in Sweden, over the neighbour 
ing countries. This idea of the ancient doctrine having 
been adopted by the old writers themselves, and by so emi 
nent an historian as Snorri, it may be regarded as the 
property of history. But we doubt not that the reader 
will have already seen, that this view is partial, that it does 
not exhaust the myths, but, at the utmost, embraces only 
a few, and even does this indirectly ; for, generally speak 
ing, it does not supply us with the original signification 
of the myths, but imparts only a notice of their later ap 
plication. To illustrate this by an example. The inha 
bitants of the North knew of a real Alfheim in Norway, 
and applied their ideas of the alfs, as pure and exalted 
beings, to the people of that district who were distinguished 
for a higher degree of civilization than their neighbours, 
but did not, on that account, renounce their belief in the 
alfs as superhuman beings, who they well knew stood in a 
superhuman relation to the rest of the creation. 

All beings in the Northern mythology, says Mone, may 
be regarded as personified ideas, or, in other words, that 
mythology contains philosophic views of nature and life. 
So far the physical and ethical interpretations coincide as 
to their object ; for nature and life stand in a constant re 
lation of interchange with each other, the perception of 
which could not escape even the earliest observers. The 
physical mode of interpretation has then for object to in- 


dicatc those powers of nature and natural phenomena, 
which in the myths are represented as personal beings, 
and to show the accordance between the mythic represen 
tation and the agency of the natural powers. This mode 
of illustration has been followed and developed by the 
greater number of interpreters, and, on the whole, none 
of the proposed systems has in its several parts been so 
borne out as this. To the Northern mythology it, more 
over, presents itself so naturally, that its application is 
almost unavoidable ; for not only have the ancient writers 
themselves sometimes expressly declared the natural phe 
nomenon intended by this or that myth, as the rainbow, 
an earthquake, etc., but some myths, as that of the wolf 
Fenrir, the Midgard s serpent and others, contain so evi 
dent a representation of a natural agency, that it is hardly 
possible to err as to their signification. In the case, there 
fore, of every obscure myth, it is advisable first to ascer 
tain whether it is or is not a natural myth, before making 
any attempt to explain it in some other way. But be 
cause this mode of explanation is the simplest, most na 
tural, and most accordant with the notions of antiquity, 
it does not follow that it can be applied in all cases, or 
that it is always applied rightly. An explanation may be 
right in its idea, without necessarily being so in its seve 
ral parts. The idea may be seized, but the application 
missed. But the idea itself may also be a misconception, 
when no real agreement is found between the myth and 
the natural object to which it is applied; when the resem 
blance is, as it were, put into it, but does not of itself 
spring from it. An example or two may serve to explain 
this, to which the reader may easily add others. An in 
terpretation fails, when it is made up of that which is only 
the poetic garb of the thought. The Valkyriur are, for 
instance, sent forth by Odin, to choose the heroes that are 
to fall in a battle : they hover over the conflicting bands, 


they mingle in the hostile ranks, they take the fallen in 
their embrace, and ride with them on their heavenly 
horses to Valhall. Here is only a beautiful poetic expres 
sion of the thought, that Valfather Odin decides the result 
of the battle, that his will decrees who shall fall, and that 
this kind of death is a blessing, through which the hero is 
taken into his abode : while by explaining the Valkyriur 
as bright aerial meteors, balls of fire, and the like, which, 
by the way, could not make their appearance on every 
battle-field, we impair all the poetic beauty, by conceiving 
to be physical that which is purely imaginary. When the 
signification of SkirmVs journey 1 is thus explained: that 
Frey is the sun, Gerd the northern light, her father, Gy- 
mir, the frozen ocean, and that Frey and Gerd s love pro 
duce spring or summer, we find in this explanation many 
and striking resemblances with the several contents of the 
poem ; though these appear to be purely accidental, be 
cause a principal resemblance is wanting, because for Gerd, 
as the northern light, it can be no very formidable threat, 
that she shall always continue barren, and live united with 
a Frost-giant, which is, in fact, her constant lot; and 
Frey s fructifying embrace for without fruit it cannot be, 
whatever we may take Frey to be, since it takes place in 
the wood of buds has on a being like the northern light 
no effect, which is, and continues to be, unfruitful. The 
explanation must, therefore, of itself pass over to the fruit- 
fulness of the earth, effected by the summer sun, but 
thereby, at the same time, abandons its first direction. 
Here the idea, which really forms the ground-work of the 
poem, is in fact comprehended, viz. the earth rendered 
fertile by Frey ; but when put aside by other similitudes, 
it is almost lost in another idea the beauty of the north 
ern light. 

If, with some commentators, we take the god Vidar for 
1 See p. 46. 


the silent departure of the year, and, consequently, of the 
winter also ; the time when Thor wanders to Geirrod , for 
the autumn or beginning of winter ; and Grid, the mother 
of Vidar, who dwells on the way to Geirrod, for the au 
tumn or end of summer, in opposition to her son ; and 
when we find that she mnst be a giantess, seeing that her 
son closes the winter; if we assume all this, a series of 
ideas is set up which have no natural connection with the 
myths Vidar, it is true, is silent, but what is the silent 
departure of the year? In the North it is wont to be 
noisy enough. And how can the silent departure of the 
year be said to destroy Fenrir, and to survive the gods, 
as it is said of Vidar 2 ? How can the mother be in oppo 
sition to the son ? and how can her nature be determined 
by the son s ? If Grid is the end of summer, she might, 
perhaps, be said to bring forth winter, but not the close of 
winter ; nor, because Vidar closes the winter, must his 
mother be a giantess, but rather the converse; if his mo 
ther is a giantess, he might be winter, and a giant himself 
By this interpretation, contradiction seems heaped on con 

Among the extraordinary directions which the pnys* 
mode of interpretation has taken, must be noticed that 
which may be called the chymical. It consists in showing 
the accordance between the myths and the later systems 
of chymistry. It explains, for instance, the three equal 
divinities by the three natural substances, sulphur, quick 
silver, and salt ; Odin, Vili, and Ve 3 , as the three laws of 
nature, gravity, motion, and affinity. It takes the rivers 
that flow from Hvergelmir 4 to denote destructive kinds ot 
gas in the bowels of the earth ; the horses of the gods, 
on which they ride over Bifrost, for vibrations in the air; 
Sleipnir among others for the vibrations of light : Valfather 

i Page 52. 2 Pages 82, 84. 3 Page 4. Pages 3, 21. 


Odin for elective affinity, in the chymical acceptation. Ac 
cording to this system, Thor is not the thunder-storm, 
but its profounder cause, electricity. By his name of 
Auku-Thor (derived from auka, to eke, augment) is signi 
fied an accumulation of electricity ; his belt must then 
bear allusion to the electric condenser ; his iron gloves are 
conductors. The myth of Thor s journey to Griotuna- 
gard 1 bears allusion to the diffusion of terrestrial mag 
netism in the vegetable kingdom, while Hrungnir is petri 
faction, Freyia and Sif are carbon and oxygen, Thor s son, 
Magni, is the magnet, and Mockurkalfi the magnetic 
needle. In the story of the Origin of Poetry 2 , Kvasir is 
saccharine matter, Fialar and Galar, who slay him, putre 
faction and fermentation, by which saccharine matter is 
decomposed ; Odhraerir is tension, Son vibration, Bodn 
echo, Gilling dregs that are precipitated ; his wife, who is 
crushed by a millstone, tartar, Suttung spirituous drink, 
and Gunnlod carbonic acid. Many of the illustrations 
according to this system might be adduced as examples 
that the idea is there, but that the application has failed, 
and no wonder, as it gives credit to antiquity for a know 
ledge of nature, which it neither had nor could have. 

In this mode of explanation is comprised that which 
may be termed the astronomical, as far as its object is to 
show that the knowledge the ancients had of the sun, the 
stars, and the division of the year, was applied mythically, 
and constituted a part of the learning of their priests. 
Traces of this mode are to be found in almost all mytho 
logies, as the contemplation of the heavenly bodies must 
find its application in life, in determining the courses of 
the year, in distinguishing particular days, and, by certain 
significant signs, in fixing the fugacious with time in the 
memory. Herewith may the arithmetic of the ancients be 

1 Page 69. * Page 40 


brought in connection, and the explanation will then, at 
the same time, be mathematical. Both these methods of 
illustration are, however, in the Northern mythology of 
but limited application, and entirely fail in the case of 
myths that have another origin and object. It has already 
been remarked by others, that among our forefathers we 
find very little, next, indeed, to nothing, about the sun, 
moon, and stars. Sol \ that is the damsel who drives the 
horses of the sun, is, it is true, named as a goddess, but 
only incidentally, and without mythic action. The sun 
itself was no god, but only a disk of fire issuing from 
Muspellheim, the region of eternal light, drawn by two 
horses and guided by the damsel Sol ; in its most exalted 
character appearing only as Odin s eye ; but of any adora 
tion paid to it, not a trace appears in the whole mytho 
logy. Bil ] is also mentioned as a goddess, but she is one 
o/the moon s spots, not the moon itself: of her worship 
not a trace is to be found. The stars came forth as sparks 
from Muspellheim 2 , and were fixed on and under heaven ; 
an idea so childish, that it could not possibly have oc 
curred to any one who thought of worshiping such spangles 
as gods. Two are mentioned as formed of earthly matter, 
viz. Thiassi s eyes 8 , and OrvandiFs toe 4 (probably the two 
principal stars in the head of the bull, and the polar star, 
or one of the stars in the great bear) ; but their origin from 
giants must at once have prevented all adoration of them. 
With these exceptions, stars are neither spoken of nor even 
named in any myth. Where so little attention was paid 
to the heavenly bodies and their motions, it cannot be 
supposed that any idea existed of a complete solar year 
with its twelve months ; nor do the two passages in the 
Eddas, where mention clearly occurs of the division of 
time 5 , give any cause for supposing it, as they name only 

i Page 6. 2 Page 5. 3 Page 45. 4 Page 71. 

3 Gylf. 8. Voluspa, Str. 6. 


the parts of the day and night, according to which the 
year may be calculated, without, by any more precise data, 
bringing it in connection with the sun and moon. Of the 
moon they observed two principal changes, Nyi and Nithi, 
which implies an observation of its course. Of the sun, 
on the contrary, we find nothing, except in connection 
with the day. This leads to the supposition, that the 
oldest year among the inhabitants of the North, as among 
other nations, was a lunar year, which is corroborated by 
the Vafthrudnismal L , where, after having made mention 
of day and night, in the same strophe it adds, that the 
gods created Nyi and Nithi for the calculation of the year ; 
nor is there any historic information to the contrary. On 
the other hand, the earliest mention of a regular compu 
tation by the solar year of 364 days, or 12 months, is 
from the years 950 to 970, that is, at the utmost, only 
fifty years older than the introduction of Christianity. 
The Icelanders, therefore, who at that time adopted a 
similar computation, cannot have brought such accurate 
knowledge with them when they emigrated from Norway, 
where, it can hardly be assumed such a calculation was in 
use at the time of Harald Harfagr 2 , much less before his 
time. Hence some doubt may be entertained whether the 
twelve mansions of the ^Esir 3 have reference to the year 
determined by the course of the sun. As, however, some 
distinguished commentators have adopted this view, a 
short sketch of the system adopted by the late Professor 
Finn Magnusen 4 is here given, as most in accordance 
with the Grimnismal. 

1 Str. 25. 

2 In whose reign the colonization of Iceland commenced, an. 874. 

3 Grimnismal, Str. 4-17. 

4 See commentary in Den ^Eldre Edda, 5. pp. 148, seq. 

G 5 



I ydal. Ull. November. 

II. Alfheim. Frey. December. 

III. Valaskialf. Vali. January. 

IV. Sockquabeck. Saga. February. 
V. Gladsheim. Hropt. March. 

VI. Thrymheim. Skadi. April. 

VII. Breidablik. Baldur. May. 

VIII. Himinbiorg. Heimdall. June. 

IX. Folkvang. Freyia. July. 

X. Glitnir. Forseti. August. 

XI. Noatun. Niord. September. 

XII. Landvidi. Vidar. October. 

Here congruity certainly prevails in many parts : winter 
precedes summer, and begins with Ull just at the time 
when the ancients began to reckon their winter; Ull can 
very well inhabit the humid dales (Ydalir 1 ) in November; 
Frey, in December, may have got Alfheim for a tooth-gift 2 ; 
Vali, who renews the year 3 , presides in January; Odin 
with Saga may here in February repeat the records of war 
like feats performed, and the like 4 . Notwithstanding all 
which, it appears to me, that to these systems it may be 
objected, that there is no other ground for assuming that 
the mansions of the gods stand in any fixed order with 
respect to each other, than because they are so enumerated 
in the Grimnismal; for the same poem enumerates also 
the horses of the JEsir, the several names of Odin, etc., 
etc., and may, therefore, be considered a sort of catalogue 
or nomenclature of mythic objects. Nor is there any more 
reason for excluding Thor than for excluding Heimdall, 
the god of the rainbow, both being connected with the 
aerial phenomena, and have no reference to the annual 
course of the sun ; and, in general, it is clear, as far as I 
can perceive, that neither Vidar, nor Niord, the god of the 
wind and ocean, nor Frey and Freyia, the divinities of 

1 Page 30. 2 Page 25. 3 Pages 30, 84. < Page 34. 


earth s fertility, nor Saga, the muse of history, as these 
beings are represented in the Eddas, either have reference 
to, or stand in connection with the course of the sun, or 
with the division of the year. 

With respect to the arithmetic of the Scandinavians,, we 
find here, as among all ancient people, a frequent recur 
rence of certain sacred numbers, as 3, 7, 9, 4, 8 1 ; but to 
this their whole arithmetic seems limited ; arid if a solitary 
instance occurs of something that may have a more recon 
dite allusion, as, for instance, the 540 gates of Valhall 2 , 
from each of which 800 Einheriar could ride abreast, such 
matter can, at the utmost, only be regarded as remnants 
of older traditions, whose original connection is lost. By 
multiplying 540 by 800, we get a number identical with 
an Indian period; but is not this identity purely acci 
dental ? It is impossible to conceive what connection can 
subsist between an Indian period of time and the doors of 
Valhall and the number of Einheriar. 

Every religion of Antiquity embraces not only the 
strictly religious elements, such as belief in the super 
natural, and the influence of this belief on the actions of 
men, but, in general, all that knowledge which is now 
called science. The priests engrossed all the learning. 
Knowledge of nature, of language, of man s whole intel 
lectual being and culture, of the historic origin of the state, 
and of the chief races, was clad in a poetic, often a mythic, 
garb, propagated by song and oral tradition, and, at a later 
period, among the most cultivated of the people, particu 
larly certain families, by writing. These disseminated, 
among the great mass of the community, whatever seemed 
to them most appropriate to the time and place. Such is 

1 For the predilection entertained by the Saxons for the number 8, see 
Lappenberg s England under the Anglo-Saxon Kings, i. 77. 

2 Page 19. 


the matter still extant in the Eddas, even as they now lie 
before us, after having past through the middle age. The 
later interpreters are, therefore, unquestionably right in 
seeking in these remains not only traditions of the origin 
and destruction of the world, of the relation of man to the 
Divinity, but also the outlines of the natural and historic 
knowledge possessed by Antiquity. We have of course, 
in the foregoing sketch, omitted all that might seem to 
have an historic signification, and communicated that alone 
which may be regarded as purely mythic. 

This mythic matter is comprised in two ancient monu 
ments, the Elder and the Younger Edda, called usually, 
after their supposed compilers, Sremund s Edda, and 
Snorri s Edda. The first-mentioned contains songs that 
are older than Christianity in the North, and have been 
orally transmitted and finally committed to writing in the 
middle age. They have, for the most part, reached us as 
fragments only, and several chasms have, at a later period, 
with greater or less felicity, been filled up by prosaic intro 
ductions or insertions. The other Edda consists of tales 
founded on, and often filled up with, verses from the Elder, 
but which have been written down after the time of 
paganism, preserved, as memorials of the past, by indi 
vidual scholars of the time, and to which, here and there, 
are added illustrations of some part of the subject 1 . To all 

1 The following is the introduction to the matter contained in the por 
tion of the Prose, or Snorri s, Edda, which is entitled Gylfaginning, or 
Delusion of Gylfi : 

" King Gylfi (see p. 34, note 6 ) was a wise man and of great knowledge. 
He wondered much that the ^Esir folk were so wise that everything went as 
they willed. He considered whether it might proceed from their nature, 
or be caused by the divine powers whom they worshiped. He undertook 
a journey to Asgard, and travelled in disguise, having assumed the like 
ness of an aged man ; and was thus concealed. But the /Esir were too 
wise in possessing fore-knowledge, and knew of his journey ere he came, 
and received him with illusions. So when he came into the city he per- 


this are appended fragments of divers sorts of mythic 
learning, intended for the use of later skalds, as an illus 
tration of, and guide to, the use of poetic expressions. 
Hence it will be manifest that the older of these collec 
tions is the most important, though to the understanding, 
arranging and completing of it, considerable help is found 
in the younger, and the interpretation of the one is not 
practicable without constantly comparing it with the other. 
Where the myths in the Elder Edda are at all detailed 
and complete, they are full of poetry and spirit, but they 

ceived a hall so lofty that he could hardly see over it. Its roof was 
covered with gilded shields, like a shingle roof. 

" Gylfi saw a man at the hall gates playing with small swords, of which 
he had seven at a time in the air. This man inquired his name. His 
name, he said, was Gangleri, that he had come a tedious way, and re 
quested a night s lodging. He then asked to whom the hall belonged. 
The man answered that it was their king s : but I will attend you to see 
him, you can then yourself ask him his name. Thereupon the man turned 
into the hall followed by Gangleri, and instantly the gate was closed at 
their heels. He there saw many apartments and many people ; some at 
games, some drinking, some fighting with weapons. He then looked 
about, and saw many things that seemed to him incredible : whereupon 
he said to himself, 

Every gate, for tis hard to know 

ere thou goest forward, where foes sit 

shalt thou inspect ; in the dwelling. 

(Havamal, Str. 1.) 

" Here he saw three thrones, one above another, and a man sitting on 
each. He then asked what the name of each chieftain might be. His 
conductor answered, that he who sat on the lowest throne was a king 
and named Har (High) ; that the next was named Jafnhar (Equally high) ; 
and that the highest of all was called Thrithi (Third). Har then asked 
the comer what further business he had ; adding, that he was entitled to 
meat and drink, like all in Hava-hall. He answered, that he would first 
inquire whether any sagacious man were there ? Har told him that he 
would not come off whole, unless he proved himself the wiser : 
but stand forth 
while thou mak st inquiry : 
tis for him to sit who answers. 

Gangleri then began his speech." The questions and answers that follow 
constitute what is called Snorri s, or the Prose, or the Younger Edda. 


often consist in dark allusions only, a defect which the 
Younger cannot supply, for here we too often meet with 
trivial and almost puerile matter, such as we may imagine 
the old religious lore to have become, when moulded into 
the later popular belief. It follows, therefore, that several 
myths now appear as poor, insipid fictions, which, in their 
original state, were probably beautiful both in form and 
substance. In both Eddas, the language is often obscure, 
and the conception deficient in clearness; it appears, 
moreover, that several myths are lost 1 , so that a complete 
exposition of the Northern Mythology is no longer to be 

All illustration of Northern mythology must proceed 
from the Eddas, and the most faithful is, without doubt, 
that which illustrates them from each other. It may in 
the meanwhile be asked, whether their matter has its ori 
ginal home in the North, or is of foreign growth ? For 
myths may either have originated among the Northern 
people themselves, and gradually in course of time have 
developed themselves among their descendants as a pro 
duction of the intellectual and political life of the people ; 
or they may have found entrance from without, have been 
forced on the people of the North at the conquest of their 
countries, and with the suppression of their own ideas ; or, 
lastly, they may consist of a compound of native and 
foreign matter. This question has been the subject of 
strict and comprehensive investigation. To the faith of 
the ancient Finnish race is with great probability referred 

1 Instances of lost myths are, " How Idun embraced her brother s 
murderer," Loka-glepsa, Str. 17 ; " Odin s sojourn in Samso," ib. Str. 24 ; 
" How Loki begat a son with Ty s wife," ib. Str. 40 ; Myths concerning 
Heimdall s head, and his contest with Loki for the Brisinga-men, Skald- 
skap. 8 (see p. 29) ; a myth concerning the giant Vagnhofdi, Saxo, edit. 
Stephanii, p. 9 ; edit. Miiller, pp. 34, 36, 45 ; and of Jotnaheiti, in Snorra- 
Edda, p. 211 ; of the giant Thrivaldi slain by Thor, and other of his feats, 
Skaldskap. 4, and HarbarSslj. Str. 29, 35, 37, etc. 


the myth of Forniot s three sons,, Hler (sea), Logi (fire), 
Kari (wind) l ; also that of Thor, as the god of thunder, 
and a comparison with the belief still prevalent among the 
Lapps will tend to confirm this opinion. This, however, 
constitutes a very inconsiderable part of the ^Esir-mytho- 
logy, and cannot have contributed much to its develop 
ment. On the other hand, everything shows that it had 
its original home in the South and the East j thither point 
tradition, resemblance to the mythology of the Germanic 
and even more southern nations, and language. An in 
quiry into this opinion of its origin, which traces it to the 
banks of the Ganges, may be instituted in two ways : 
either by tracing a similitude between its several myths 
and those of other nations, or by considering as a whole 
the spirit of the one mythology compared with that of the 
other. A comparison of the several myths, which has with 
great learning been made by Finn Magnusen, leads to the 
result, that between the Northern on the one side, and the 
Indian, Persian and other kindred mythologies on the other, 
are found many striking resemblances, particularly with 
reference to the creation of the world, the transmigration 
of souls, regeneration, etc. ; while, on the contrary, they 
rather diverge from each other, on a comparison together 
of their respective spirits. The Oriental is contemplative, 
the Northern is one of pure action; according to the 
first, the gods are to be reconciled by works of atone 
ment, according to the second, by battle. The one was 
a natural consequence of the warmth of the East, the 
other of the Northern cold. It seems, therefore, probable, 
that the earliest elements of the Northern mythology were 
brought from Asia through divers other nations to the 
North, where they became developed and formed after a 
peculiar fashion. The rugged, wild, grand nature of the 
country supplied those great and lofty images, drawn from 
1 Page 27. 


ice-bergs and rocks ; and the ever active course of life, in 
which men were there engaged, transformed the sluggish, 
half-slumbering gods of the East, absorbed in contempla 
tion, into beings that rode on the wings of the storm, 
and, in the raging battle, gathered men to them, to re 
ward them in another world with combats and death, from 
which they rose again to life, and with the aliments known 
to the natives of the North as the most nutritive, and by 
which they were strengthened to begin the combat anew 1 . 
Every closer consideration of Northern life, of the people s 
constant warfare with nature and with foes, renders it 
easily conceivable, that Odin, however Buddhistic he may 
originally have been, must under a Northern sky be trans 
formed into a Valfather 8 ; that the Northern man, to whom 
death was an every-day matter, must have a Valhall, and 
that the idea of a state of happiness without battle, of 
quiet without disquiet, must be for ever excluded. After 
all, in explaining the Eddas, it does not seem necessary to 
resort to other mythologies, though a comparison with 
them is always valuable, and highly interesting, when it 
shows an analogy between them and the myths of the 

To arrive at a satisfactory explanation of the Northern 
myths, it is necessary to commence with the signification 
of the mythic names. Verbal illustration must precede 
every other ; when that fails, the rest is almost always de 
fective. The names of the gods are, as Grimm observes, 
in themselves significant, bearing an allusion to their na 
ture 3 . But in this investigation, difficulties sometimes 
arise, as it is generally the oldest words of a language, 
that form the ground-work, and all etymology is, more 
over, exposed to much caprice. The illustration of myths 
will also be greatly prejudiced, if we yield to a blind guess 

1 Page 19. 2 page 15. 

3 Deutsche Mythologie, p. 201, 1st edit. 


among forms of like sound. Every verbal illustration 
must, therefore, be conformable to the laws of transition 
between the Northern and its kindred tongues ; a rule, by 
the way, easier to give than to follow. 

To explain a myth is to show what can have given oc 
casion to the image on which it hinges, and to express, in 
unemblematic language, the thought which serves as a 
basis for the image. Here explanation may usually stop 
for to follow the figurative picture through all its parts is 
not necessary, that being a process which will naturally be 
undertaken by every poetic mind, and the object of expla 
nation is not to excite the fancy, but to lead it to the 
point whence it may begin its flight. In the myth of 
Frey and Gerd s love, for instance, the thought forms the 
basis, that the god of fecundity longs to spread his bless 
ing over the barren earth, and to wake in the seed its 
slumbering efficacy. To show this is to explain the myth. 
But this thought is expressed by a picture of all the de 
sires and sufferings of love, of the blessing of fruitfulness, 
as the effect of love in the youthful heart ; whereby the 
myth becomes a beautiful poem. To develop this poetic 
beauty is not the object of illustration ; it can escape no 
one who has a feeling for poetry. And to follow all the 
possible resemblances between the effect of fruitfulness in 
the earth, and the effect of love in the heart, would be as 
uninteresting as tasteless. 



EVERY illustration of the Eddas lias something indivi 
dual ; it depends on the idea we have formed to ourselves 
of Antiquity. That which I shall here attempt has not 
for object either to disparage any foregoing one, or to 
render it superfluous. Availing myself of the labours 
my predecessors, I shall endeavour to represent the prin 
cipal Northern myths in their most natural connection, 
and thereby furnish my readers with a view of Northern 
mythology, by which the mental culture and life of the 
people may the more easily be conceived. 

CREATION. Before heaven and earth, gods and men 
existed, there were cold and heat, mist and flame, which 
are represented as two worlds, Niflheim and Muspellheim * . 
Over the hovering mist and the world of fire no rulers are 
named, Surt being only the guardian of the latter. Be 
tween both worlds there was nothing except Ginnunga- 
gap 1 , a boundless abyss, empty space; but by the contact 
of ice and heat, there was formed, through the power of 
the Almighty, the first, unorganic foundation of heaven 
and earth matter. This was called Ymir 2 , and is repre 
sented under the form of a huge giant. Offspring came 
forth from under his arm, and his feet procreated with 
each other; for the unorganized mass was increased by 
life not inward but from without. He was nourished by 
the dripping rime from the constant melting of the ice, 
represented under the figure of a cow 3 , the symbol of 
nourishment and preservation ; or, in other words, matter 
constantly added to itself, and spread itself into a mon 
strous unorganic race, the Frost-giants, or the vast groups 
of snow-mountains and ice-bergs. 

ILLUSTRATION. Before the world itself, in the begin- 
i Page 3. 2 Page 3. 3 Page 4. 


ning, its foundation existed : a creation from nothing was 
incomprehensible. The existing things were cold and heat, 
ice and light. Towards the north lay Niflheim 1 , towards 
the south Muspellheim. Niflheim (from nifl, Ger. nebel, 
Lat. nebula, Gr. ve<eX7?) signifies the home, or world of 
mist. Here was Hvergelmir 2 (from liver, a large kettle, 
spring, and gelmir, from gialla, stridere, comp. Ohg. galm, 
stridor, sonitus 3 ), the bubbling, roaring kettle, or spring, 
whence the ice-streams flow forth. They are called Eli- 
vagar 4 (from el, storm, rain, sleet, and vagr (vogr), wave, 
stream). The word eitr, which is applied to these and 
similar icy streams, signifies poison, but originally the most 
intense cold. The Swedes still say etter-kallt/ equivalent 
to our piercing cold. The first twelve rivers which run 
from Hvergelmir, some of which occur also as rivers pro 
ceeding from Eikthyrnir s horn in Valhall 5 , signify the 
misty exhalations, before the creation of the world, like 
the clouds afterwards. Muspellheim, it may be supposed, 
betokened (in contradistinction to Niflheim) the world of 
light, warmth, fire ; but the origin of the word is unknown 6 . 
Over this world Surt (the swart, connected with svart, 
niger 7 ) ruled, a god who reveals himself in the burning 
fire, and whose sword is flames. In its signification of 
swart, browned by fire, the name resembles Kris na (the 
black, violet), one of the names of the Indian deity Vishnu. 
Surt is not an evil being ; he comes forth, it is true, at the 
end of the world, which he burns, but it is the corrupt, 
fallen world, after which a state of bliss will begin. Nor 
is he black of hue : on the contrary, he and his followers, 
MuspelFs sons, form a bright, shining band 8 . Surt, in 
my opinion, is not the same as he whose power sends 
forth the heat, for then Surfs name, not this periphrasis, 

1 Page 3. Hrafnag. Ojnns, 25, 26. 2 p ages 3> ]2 . 

3 Grimm, D. M. p. 530. 4 Page 3. s Page 2 Q. 

6 Page 3, note 2 . 1 Grimm, p. 769. * Gylf. p. 72. 


would have been used 1 . It is not lie who causes the hot 
and cold worlds to come in contact and operate on each 
other whereby the world s foundation came into being : it 
is a higher being, the Ineffable, the Almighty, without 
whose will the worlds of mist and of light would have re 
mained for ever, each within its bounds. But He willed, 
His power manifested itself, and creation began. Between 
both worlds was Ginnunga-gap (the abyss of abysses), 
from ginn, denoting something great, widely extended, 
whence is formed ginnungr, a wide expanse, here used in 
the genitive plural. This appellation, as well as Ehvagar, 
was by the geographers applied to the Frozen ocean, one 
of the many proofs that mythic names have obtained an 
historic application. 

Ymir (from omr, ymr, at ymja) signifies the noisy, whist 
ling, blustering; it is the primeval chaos. In Aurgelmir 
(Orgelmir), his other name 2 , aur signifies matter, the old 
est material substance, also mud, clay. This grew and be 
came consistent, strong, firm ; in other words, he brought 
forth Thrudgelinir, who increased in size till he became a 
perfect mountain, Bergelmir 3 . Au^humla 2 (derived from 
airSr, desert, Ger. ode, and hum, darkness, dusk, with the 
derivative termination la) shows that the matter increased 
by the streams that ran through the desert darkness. The 
cow is found in almost all cosmogonies. Hrfmjmrs* (from 
hrim, rime, rime frost, and purs, }mss, giant) signifies 
plainly enough the ice-bergs, and their senseless being. 

The Universal Father (AlfoSr) was among the Frost- 
giants 4 . That is, the creative power began to operate in 
the unorganic, elementary mass. The cow, or nourishing 
power, licked the salt stones, and thereby produced an 
internal motion, so that life sprang up. It began with 

i See p. 3 ; also the passage in Gylf. p. 6, where Surt is already men- 
tioned by name. ^ e * 

3 It should therefore be written Berggelmir. 


the hair, the first growing plant ; then the bead, the abode, 
of thought, came forth ; and lastly, the entire human crea 
ture. Vegetable, intellectual, and animal life came into 
activity, the strictly so-called creation began, the first in 
telligent being existed. It had power through its internal 
virtue, it increased itself of itself : Buri, the bringer forth, 
produced Bor, the brought forth. Bor married Bestla, or 
Belsta 1 , a daughter of the giant Bolthorn; the higher 
mental power began to operate in the better part of the 
miserable material, which was thereby ennobled, and the 
creative powers, the .ZEsir, came forth : they were good 
gods, opposed to monsters, to the wicked giants. The 
.^Esir are represented as three brothers, that is, three di 
rections of the same agency, Odin, Vili, and Ve, or Mind, 
Will, and Holiness. These sons of Bor slew Ymir or Chaos, 
and formed of him heaven and earth 1 . But a part of the 
material escaped from their quickening power, the highest 
mountain peaks remained untouched by the inundation 
produced; the sea gradually subsided, and around the 
inhabited earth high ice-bergs were formed, the family of 
Bergelmir. From the world of light came the bright 
heavenly bodies, but they wandered about without object 
or aim. The gods placed them in order and fixed their 
course : night and day, winter and summer, took each its 
turn; days and years might be reckoned. The most 
central part of the earth, or Midgard, was appointed for 
the future human race ; the JEsir fixed their abode in As- 
gard, the highest part of the world. This was the first 
period of creation : they rested. 

ILLUSTRATION. The word salt, Lat. sal, salum, Gr. 
craXo?, aX?, is referred to the Sanskrit zal, to put oneself 
in motion (Lat. salire). It is the expression for the moving, 
animating, recreative power. Buri denotes the forth-bring 
ing, origin, source : it is referred to the Sansk. Vu, to be, 
1 Page 4. 


also to consider, think, with many derivatives. Borr, Burr, 
or Bors, is the brought forth, born, Sansk. b aras, Goth, 
baurs, Lat. por, puer. It also forms an adjective bor-inn, 
born, from bera, to bear, bring forth, from the past tense 
of which, bar, is derived barn, a child, A. S. beam, Scot, 
bairn : burr also (A. S. byre) is used by the skalds for 
son. By Bolthorn (from trouble, evil, bale, and ]?orn, 
thorn) is expressed the bad quality of matter, as opposed 
to the gods. Of Bestla, or Belsta, the etymon is uncer 
tain, as is also the signification of the myth. The names 
Odin, Vili, and Ve will be noticed hereafter. The general 
denomination of these gods is As, pi. ^Esir; Goth, ans, 
A. S. 6s, pi. es (analogously with Ger. Gans, A. S. gos, 
ges, goose, geese}. Jornandes calls them An ses. The root 
is the Sansk. as, to be, exist, and is the same as the Latin 
termination ens 1 . The boat in which Bergelmir escaped 
is called lu$r, signifying a lute, drum, also a sort of sack 
or case used in the ancient mills ; its meaning here can 
not, however, be doubtful, as it evidently corresponds to 
Noah s ark: its radical signification may lie in its hol- 
lowed-out form. 

With the creation of the gods this world begins. There 
was a state before it, and a state will follow it. In the 
state before it the raw elements existed, but it was a rough, 
unformed life : mind was yet lacking in the giant s body. 
With Odin and the ^Esir the intellectual life began to 
operate on the raw masses, and the world in its present 
state came into existence. 

Day and night were opposed to each other ; light came 

1 The jEsir are the creators, sustainers and regulators of the world, the 
spirits of thought and life that pervade and animate all dead nature, and 
seek to subject it to the spiritual will. They assemble daily to hold coun 
cil on the world s destinies. The human form and manner of being are 
ascribed to them, but in a higher and nobler manner; they hear and see 
more acutely, they go from place to place with inconceivable speed. Peter- 
sen, Nor. Myth. p. 116. 


from above, darkness from beneath. Night was before 
day, winter before summer. Light existed before the sun. 
The moon preceded, the sun followed. 

ILLUSTRATION. Here are several denominations, the 
significations of which are of little importance, and also 
very doubtful. The three husbands of Night, it is sup 
posed, bear allusion to the three divisions of the night 
(eyktir). The similarity of the name of her first husband, 
Naglfari, to Naglfar, that of the ship formed of the nails 
of the dead, that is to appear at Ragnarock 1 , is remarkable, 
though probably purely accidental. Aud, the name of 
their son, denotes void, desert. Annar, her second hus 
band^ s name, signifies merely second, other. Onar, as he 
is also called, has been compared with the Gr. ovap, a 
dream. Celling (Dogling), her third husband s name, 
may be a diminutive of dagr, day, and signify dawn 2 . 

Hrimfaxi, the name of the horse of night, signifies rime- 
or frosty-mane. His other appellation, Fiorsvartnir, may be 
rendered life-obscurer. Skinfaxi, the name of the horse of 
day, denotes shining -mane; his other name, Glad, brightness. 
Mundilfori has been derived from 0. Nor. mondull, an 
axis ; a derivation, if to be relied on, which seems to indi 
cate a knowledge of the motion of the heavens round the 
earth. The spots in the moon, which are here alluded to, 
require but little illustration 3 . Here they are children 
carrying water in a bucket, a superstition still preserved 
in the popular belief of the Swedes 4 . Other nations see in 
it a man with a dog, some a man with a bundle of brush 
wood, for having stolen which on a Sunday he was con 
demned to figure in the moon 5 , etc. 

1 Page 80. 2 Page 5. 3 Page 6. 

4 Ling s Eddornas Sinnebildslara, i. 78. 

5 Lady Cynthia is thus described by Chaucer (Testam. of Cresseide, 
260-263) : 

Her gite was gray and ful of spottis blake, 
And on her brest a chorle paintid ful even, 


Glen, the husband of the sun, is the Kymric word for 
sun. Her horses are Arvakr, the vigilant, and Alsvith, the 
all-burning, all-rapid. The sun is feminine and the moon 
masculine, because day is mild and friendly, night raw 
and stern ; while in the south, day is burning and night 
the most pleasant. The father of Winter, Vindsval, de 
notes windy, cold. The father of Summer is Svasud, or 
mild, soft. Hrsesvelg, the name of the north wind, repre 
sented as an eagle, signifies corpse-devourer 1 . 

DWARFS AND MEN. The gods assembled on Ida s 
plain 2 , etc. The maidens from Jotunheini, were, with 
out doubt, the maidens of fate or destiny, who craved the 
creation of the beings that should be subjected to them. 
Now, therefore, follows the creation of dwarfs and men. 
The subordinate powers of nature were generated in the 
earth ; men were created from trees. This is the gradual 
development of organic life. The nature of the three gods 
who were active in the creation of man is particularly 
marked by their respective donations to the trees, that 
is, to organic nature in its first development, whereby man 
is distinguished from the vegetable 8 . 

Bering a bushe of thornis on his bake, 
Whiche for his theft might clime no ner the heven. 
In Ritson s Ancient Songs (ecL 1790, p. 35) there is one on the Mon 
in the Mone. 

Shakspeare also mentions him and his bush : 

Steph. I was the man in the moon, when time was. 
Cal. I have seen thee in her, and I do adore thee ; 

My mistress showed me thee, and thy dog and thy bush. 
Again : Tempest, ii. 2. 

Quince One must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, 

and say, he comes to disfigure, or to present, the person of moonshine. 

Mids. Night s Dream, i. 3. 

For Oriental and other traditions connected with the man in the moon, 
see Grimm, D. M. p. 679. 

1 Grimm calls attention to the apparent connection between the Lat. 
aquilo and aquila, the Gr. ave/tos and deros, from the root aw, drjfjn, etc. 

2 Pages 9, 10. 2 Page 10 . 


ILLUSTRATION. ISavollr, or Ida s plain (whether de 
rived from ift, action, or from the dwarfs name, I$i, gold, 
and signifying either the plain of action, or of gold) denotes 
a heavenly, bright abode. The occupations of the JSsir 
are an imitation of those of men. To forge metals was 
one of the most honourable employments of a freeman ; 
equally so was the game of tables. To play at tables 
signifies simply to lead a life of enjoyment and happiness. 
Hence, on the other hand, the son says to his mother, 
Groa, "Thou didst set an odious play-board before me, 
thou who didst embrace my father;" that is, "thou didst 
prepare for me an unhappy life 1 ." With respect to the 
three maidens from Jotunheim, opinions have been much 
divided. The most natural interpretation seems to me, 
that they were the three Norns, the goddesses of fate. 
When these came, the attention of the gods became di 
rected to that which should yet come to pass, and their 
hitherto useless energies acquired a definite object. The 
Norns, who had been reared among the giants, must also 
come before the beings were created who, during the whole 
course of their existence, were to be subjected to them. 
It is, moreover, said that mankind lay like senseless trees, 
without fate and destiny (orlogslausir), but that they now 
got fate (orlb g) . Askr is the ash tree ; what tree is meant 
by embla is doubtful. 

The Northern Mythology, like almost every other, pre 
sents us with three equally powerful gods. In the Gylfa- 
ginning they are called Har, the High; Jafnhar, the 
Equally High ; and pri$i, the Third. The first and last 
of these are also surnames of Odin it might otherwise 
seem probable, that here, where they are opposed to King 
Gylfi, and the scene lies in Sweden, the three chief gods 
worshiped at Upsala, Odin, Thor, and Frey, were in 
tended. At the creation of the world, the three active 

1 Grou-galdr, Str. 3. 



deities are Odin, Vili, and Ve, who are brothers ; at the 
creation of mankind, they are Odin, Hcenir, and Lodur, 
who are not brothers. These beings, therefore, denote 
several kinds of the divine agency, but are not the same. 
Odin s name shall be further considered hereafter ; here 
we will merely observe that it bears allusion to mind or 
thought, and breathing; it is the quickening, creating 
power. Vili, or Vilir 1 , is the Old Norsk expression for 
will, which, if referred to the Sansk. vel, or veil, Gr. etXew, 
Lat. volo, velle (volvo), would denote the power that sets 
matter in motion. Among the dwarfs also the name of 
Vili occurs. Ve signifies in the 0. Nor. tongue, a place 
of assembly, with the idea of holiness and peace, and is the 
root of at vigja, to consecrate (Goth, veihs, Ohg. wih, sacred-, 
Goth, vaihts, a thing, the created, consecrated; 0. Nor. 
vsettr, thing, opp. to ovsettr, a monster). It expresses 
therefore consecration, that is, separation from the evil, 
hurtful or disturbing. Hence, at the creation of the world, 
Ve operates so far as the divine power obstructs the op 
posing evil matter, that would not yield to Thought and 
Will. Thus explained, Odin, Vili and Ve accurately cor 
respond to the Indian trinity, Trimurti, and the three 
chief Indian gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, the creating, 
preserving, and judging powers, or omnipotence, goodness, 
and justice. As Frigg is said to be married to Odin, Vili, 
and Ve 2 , so is the primeval mother of the Indians, Para- 
siakti, represented as the wife of the three first-created 
gods. According to Finn Magnusen, Vili is light, and 
Ve fire, whereby it is, at the same time, assumed that 
Vili is the same with Hoenir, and Ve with Lodur. At the 
creation of man, Odin gave ond, Hoenir 6$, Lodur la and 
litu go^u. Ond signifies spirit or breath, the intellectual 
or physical life; 6i$r signifies sense, mind; ond and 6i$r 
are to each other as anima and mens (6$r from vaiSa, vadere ; 

1 Ynglingas. cc. 3, 5. 2 Page 32, and note. 


mens from meare) ; oftr is then the outward and inward 
sense, or perception. La is water, fluid; litr, colour, 
whereby allusion is made to the circulation of the blood 
and the vital warmth thereby produced. Here then are 
expressed the three actions of animal life : to breathe, to 
perceive, to move from within. The derivation of Hcenir is 
unknown. He is called Odin s friend, and associate, and 
fellow-traveller, with reference to the close connection 
between perception and mind. He is also called the rapid 
As, and Long-foot, in allusion to the far-reaching activity 
of perception in space ; in other words, Hcenir operates in 
space as Odin does in time. He is also called Aur-kon- 
lingr 1 , king of matter 2 . Loftr (L63r) is, without doubt, 
related to la, blood, litr, colour, A. S. wlite, and expresses 
the motion of the fluid with its consequences, vital warmth 
and colour. 

The beings different from men are besides the giants, 
the oldest of all, and the ^Esir, who created heaven and 
earth, and preserve all things the Elves and Vans (Alfar 
and Vanir) 3 . The Elves are the subordinate powers of 
nature ; some of them, the Light-elves (Liosalfar) are 
airy, light beings, hovering over, and, as it were, protect 
ing the earth : in other words, they are the powers that 
operate on all that thrives in air, in plants, in rivers, and 
on the earth s surface. Others, Dark-elves (Dockalfar, 
Svartalfar), dwell in the bowels of the earth, and are nearly 
related to, if not identical with, the Dwarfs, or powers 
that work in stones, earth, metals : they are skilful workers 
in metal 4 . The whole transition from the hard, dark stone, 
through the glittering metals, to the germinating powers 
in the earth, which develop themselves in the fairest, co 
loured, fruitful forms the plants seems represented by 

1 From aur, argilla, lutum. Finn Magnusen (Lex. Myth. p. 464) would 
read 6r-konungr, sagittarum rex, from or, sagitta, telum. 

2 Skaldskap. 15. 3 Pages 25, 14. 4 Page 38. 



the gradual transition through Dwarfs (stones), Swart- 
elves (metals), Dark-elves (earth and mould), Light-elves 
(plants). Between the ^Esir and the Elves are the Vanir. 
Their creation is nowhere spoken of; they are the powers 
of the sea and air -, as active beings they appear only in 
their relation to the .ZEsir and Elves, that is, to heaven and 
earth. They made war against and concluded peace with 
the ^Esir, and one of them, Frey, obtained the sovereignty 
over the Light-elves l . The Vanir rule in the sea and air, 
encircling the whole earth in a higher and remoter sphere. 
The Light-elves rule in the rivers and air, surrounding 
the inhabited earth in a lower and more contracted sphere. 
ILLUSTRATION. Besides the before-mentioned appella 
tion of purs (Goth. )?aursus, dry ; }?aursjan, to thirst], the 
giants are also called jotunn, pi. jotnar (A. S. eoten, Lat. 
edo, edonis), from at eta, to eat, thus signifying the vora 
cious, greedy*. These beings use stones and fragments 
of rock as weapons, and, within the mountains, iron bars 
also. Among the common people the belief is still lively, 
how mountains, islands, etc. have arisen through their 
wanderings, how they hurled vast stones and rocks, and 
how they fled before the husbandmen. The giants dwell in 
large caverns, in rocks and mountains, and are intelligent 
and wise, for all nature has proceeded from them ; vora 
cious, large, powerful, proud, insolent 3 : were it not for 

1 Page 25. 

2 Ic mesan maeg meahtlicor and efan eten ealdum )>yrre (^yrse), lean 
feast and also eat more heartily than an old giant. Cod. Exon. p. 425, 
1. 26-29. 

3 They are represented as having many hands and heads : Staerkodder 
had six arms ; in Skirnis-for a three-headed Thurs is mentioned. Of their 
relative magnitude to man an idea may be formed from the following. 
" At the entrance of the Black forest, ou the Hiinenkoppe, there dwelt a 
giantess (hiinin) with her daughter. The latter having found a husband 
man in the act of ploughing, put him and his plough and his oxen into her 
apron, and carried the little fellow with his kittens to her mother, who 
angrily bade her take them back to the place whence she had taken them, 


Thor, they would get the mastery,, but he stands between 
them and heaven, and strikes them down when they ap 
proach too near. Like nature, which is still or agitated, 
the giant at rest is blunt and good-humoured ; but when 
excited, savage and deceitful. This latter state is called 
jotun-moftr (giant-mood) in contradistinction to as-mo^r 
(As-mood). The giantesses are sometimes described as 
large, ugly, and misshapen, like the giants ; sometimes as 
exceedingly beautiful, exciting desire among the gods, who 
long to unite with them in marriage. Such a one was 
Gerd 1 . Of these the gygr (pi. gygjur) is represented as 
inhabiting mountain-caves, and guarding the descent 
through them to the nether world. Thus it is related, 
that Brynhild, after her death, when on the way to Hel, 
came to a giantess, who thus addressed her : " Thou shalt 
not pass through my courts upheld by stone 2 ." Such a 
giantess was Saxo s Harthgrepa 3 (O. Nor. HarcSgreip). 
Thor also came to the giantess Grid, the mother of Vidar, 
on his way to Geirrod, or the Iron-king 4 . Vidar, as we 
shall see hereafter, ruled in a wood above ground, the 
giantess dwelt at the entrance of the cavern, Geirrod in its 
depth. It will now appear what is meant by the class of 
giantesses called Jarnviftjur (sing. Jarnviftja). These 
dwelt in the JarnvrSr (Iron wood), where Fenrir s offspring 
were brought forth, the wolves that will swallow the sun 
and moon 5 , and cause calamity above, as the wolf Fenrir 
in the deep. Jarnsaxa, one of HeimdalFs mothers, was of 
this number 6 . The lord of this impenetrable forest was 
Vidar. In all this dead inert nature seems to be depicted, 

adding, They belong to a race that can inflict great injury to the giants. " 
See Grimm, D. M., p. 506, where other examples are given ; see also the 
story of Thor s journey to Jotunheim. 

1 Page 46. 2 HelreiS Brynhildar, Str. 1. 

3 Page 36, ed. Miiller, Skaldskap. p. 210. 4 Skaldskap.p. 113. 

* Page 7. 6 Page 28. 


but at the same time, how it is subjected to the higher 
power of the gods, who, as soon as they came into exist 
ence, began and ever continue to operate on it. And in 
general, it must be remarked, that the giants are not 
merely beings dwelling in Utgard, or on the edge of the 
earth, but are all nature, in opposition to the gods. 

THE VANIR. Their name is to be traced in the adjec 
tive vanr, empty, vanus , though they rule also in the 
water. In all the Gothic and Slavonian tongues a relation 
ship is found between the denominations of wind and 
water and weather. That the Vanir ruled over the sea 
appears manifestly from Niord; that they ruled in the 
air may be inferred from their seeing Gna riding in the 
air l . 

THE ELVES AND DWARFS are not clearly distinguished 
from each other. The Light-elves border on the Vanir, 
the Dark- or Swart-elves on the dwarfs. According to 
the popular belief, the elves (elle-folk) dwell by rivers, in 
marshes, and on hills ; they are a quiet, peaceful race. 
The etymon of the word dvergr (durgr), dwarf, is un 
known, but their habitation in stones, down in the earth, 
and their occupation in smith s work, remove all doubt as 
to their nature. They were created from the earth, or 
YimVs body 2 . The name of their chief Modsognir signifies 
the strength- or sap-sucker the second, Durin, the slum 
bering, from diir, slumber. From Lofar, the graceful, 
comely (?) descend those of the race of Dvalin (torpor). It 
was this family that wandered from their rocky halls, 
where they lay in a torpid state (i dvala), over the clay- 
field, to Jura s plains. If the word Jora be here taken in 
its usual acceptation of conflict, then by joru-vellir will be 
meant fields of contest, men s habitations ; but, at all events, 
the contest shows that the development of nature is here 
intended, from the lifeless stone, through the fertile earth, 
1 Page 35. 2 Page 9. 


to the plant and tree ; so that these beings seem to have 
presided over the transition from unorganic to organic na 
ture. To this interpretation their names, as far as we can 
explain them, are particularly favourable : Moinn, earth- 
dweller ; Draupnir, the dripper, or former of drops ; Gloi, 
the glowing, glittering, giver of colour ; HlioSalfr, the elf of 
sound. The dwarfs work in the service of the gods, and 
their productions are emblems of the different agencies of 
nature. Of these the sons of Ivaldi are particularly named,, 
who made the artificial hair of Sif, the ship Skidbladnir 
for Frey, and the spear Gungnir for Odin while Sindri 
and Brock made Frey s hog with golden bristles, the ring 
Draupnir and the hammer Miolnir 1 . Thus they wrought 
both in the vegetable kingdom and in metals. Odin, it is 
said, cut or engraved runes for the ^Esir, Dvalin for the 
elves, Dam for the dwarfs 2 . That the elves and dwarfs 
are blended together, appears not only from this passage, 
where Dvalin, a dwarf, is named as the teacher of the 
elves, but from the list of names in the Voluspa. Without 
the earth, we meet with the dwarfs Northri, Suthri, Austri, 
and Vestri, the four cardinal points of the compass ; also 
Nyi and Nithi, the increasing and waning moon, mere 
ideas, which are referred to the dwarfs as representing the 
subordinate powers 3 . 

THERE ARE NINE WOLRDS 4 , and as beings inhabiting 
them, the following are named : ^Esir, Vanir, Men, Elves, 
Dwarfs, Jotuns, Halir, or inhabitants of Helheim. These 
nine worlds are, 1. Muspellheim, the furthest towards the 
south, inhabited by Surt and MuspelFs sons : it is the 
highest heaven, with light, warmth and fire, and older 
than either heaven or earth ; 2. Asgard or Godheim, the 

1 Pages 38, 39. 2 R U natals)>. 0>ins, Str. 6. 

3 Page 5. It is singular, what Keyser remarks, that the Eddas omit all 
mention of the creation of animals. 

4 Alvismal, Str. 9. 


world of the ^Esir or gods, heaven ; 3. Vanaheim, or 
the abode of the Vanir, 4. Midgard or Manheim, the 
world of men, the middlemost inhabited part of the earth ; 

5. Alfheim, or Lios-alfheim, inhabited by the elves ; 

6. Svart-alfheim, inhabited by swart-elves and dwarfs ; 

7. Jotunheim, or Utgard, inhabited by jotuns or giants, 
the uttermost boundary of the earth ; 8. Helheim, inha 
bited by those dead who go to Hel, the world of spectres ; 
9. Niflheim, the world of mist, the furthest north, and the 
nethermost, uninhabited, older than heaven and earth *. 

ILLUSTRATION. The nine worlds mentioned in the 
Alvismal must not be confounded with the nine over which 
the gods gave dominion to Hel, which are identical with 
the nine worlds below Niflheim, where the Halir or sub 
jects of Hel wander about 2 . She acquired the dominion 
over a portion of Niflheim, and that she had nine worlds 
to rule over, means simply that her realm was boundless. 
Some explain the nine worlds thus : 1 . Muspellheim, the 
abode of MuspelPs sons ; 2. Alfheim, of the Light-elves ; 
3. Godheim, of the ^Esir; 4. Vanaheim, of the Vanir ; 
5. Vindheim, of souls ; 6. Manheim, of men ; 7. Jotun- 
heim, of giants; 8. Myrkheim, of dwarfs; 9. Niflheim, 
of spectres. But Vindheim is the same as Vanaheim, and 
is not inhabited by souls, who go either to Valhall or to 
Hel. Others place Alfheim, or Lios-alfheim, either, as 
here, after Muspellheim, or even above it. This colloca 
tion is founded on Gylfaginning 17, where, in speaking of 
the heavenly dwellings, after mention made of Gimli, it is 
said that there is a heaven, Andlang, above Gimli, and 
above that another, VrSblain (wide-blue) ; ( and we be 
lieve that the Light-elves alone now inhabit those places." 
But the text of Snorri seems to have been here made up 
by additions at different times; for the state of things there 
alluded to is evidently what is to take place after Ragna- 
1 Page 3. 2 Page 50. Vafkudnism, Str. 43. 


rock; as not until then will either good men inhabit 
Gimli, or the elves Andlang and Viftblain. Not until 
after Ragnarock, will men, elves, and giants, the beings 
who till then had dwelt on earth, come to their heavenly 
abodes. This is, moreover, clear from the circumstance, 
that not till the conclusion of the chapter above-mentioned 
of Gylfaginning, is there any mention of the heavens, 
Andlang and Vidblain, but previously the abode of the 
Light-elves in Alfheim is spoken of. 

HEAVEN AND EARTH. The ideas of these are formed 
in accordance with their seeming figure. Outermost was 
the ocean, on which Utgard bordered. In the middle of. 
the earth was Midgard. Above all Asgard raised its 
head, first on earth, but afterwards, it would seem, trans 
ferred to heaven. This scheme is a perfect image of the 
Thing, or popular assembly, around the king s exalted 
seat. He was immediately encircled by his priests and 
officials as Odin by the .ZEsir. Without them stood the 
people or free men ; outermost of all was the circle of 
thralls. In like manner the holy offering- tree, with its 
three branches and its sacred spring, whence oracles were 
issued, was transferred to heaven. By one of YggdrasiPs 
roots are the spring and dwelling of the Norns l , like the 
priestesses or Valas on earth. There the will of the fates 
is to be learned, to which even the gods themselves are 
subjected ; by another of its roots is Mimir s spring 1 3 
where is the wisdom of the deep ; by the third root are 
serpents, herein also resembling the earthly tree, by which 
serpents were fed. Between the giants and the gods there 
is a river named Ifing, which never freezes 2 , that is, the 
atmosphere ; but from the abode of men a bridge leads 
up to the latter, herein again resembling the earthly 
temples, built probably on an isle, and accessible only over 
a sacred bridge. The guardian of the bridge was Heim- 
1 Page 12. 2 Page 11. 

H 5 


dall, who from the river Gioll, the horizon, raised his 
Giallar-horn, which is kept under the tree Yggdrasil 1 . 
But there was another guardian, Mimir, at the descent 
into the nether world, at the junction of heaven and sea, 
in the north, as the abode of night, and the region where 
the inhabitants of the North found the country surrounded 
by the sea. The spring of the Norns is that of super 
human wisdom, MirmYs that of sublunary. Odin must 
possess both. With his one eye, the sun, he saw all that 
passed in heaven and on earth; but the secrets of the 
deep he must learn, either by sinking, as the sun, into the 
sea, or by getting possession of Mimir s head, as the seat 
of subterranean wisdom. 

ILLUSTRATION. Ifing. The name of this river seems 
derived from the verb at ifa, which now signifies to doubt, 
though the primitive idea has probably been to totter, to 
move from place to place j Ifing will then signify that which 
is in constant motion, like the air, which also never freezes. 
Bifrost is the rainbow, from at bifa, to tremble^ swing, and 
rost, a measure of length, mile. Yggdrasil has never been 
satisfactorily explained 2 . But at all events, the sacred tree 
of the North is, no doubt, identical with the robur Jovis/ 

1 Page 29. 

2 The ash Yggdrasil is an emblem of all living nature. The name is 
obscure, but may be explained. Ygg s, i. e. Odin s, horse, seat, or chariot, 
from Ygg, a name of Odin, and drasill or drosull, from draga, to dear, &c. 
Living nature is regarded as moved and ruled by the divine power, which 
has its seat in it as the soul in the body. The word thus explained is in 
perfect accordance with the old skaldic notions, and the myth seems a 
poetic allegory throughout. The image accords with their cosmogony. 
In the tree s top sits an eagle, the emblem of spirit or life ; at its root in 
Hvergelmir lies Nidhbgg, the serpent of darkness and death; but the 
squirrel Ratatbsk runs up and down the trunk, carrying rancorous words 
between the eagle and the serpent ; i. e. contending powers move in nature, 
and false malice steals with its calumny through human life, and disturbs 
its peace. The fundamental idea seems to be the great strife that per 
vades worldly life, the strife between spirit and matter, good and evil, life 
and death. Keyser, Relig. Forfatn. pp. 24, 25. 


or sacred oak of Geismar, destroyed by Boniface 1 , and the 
Irminsul of the Saxons 2 , the Columna universalis, the ter 
restrial tree of offerings, an emblem of the whole world, 
as far as it is under divine influence. The giant-powers 
and the children of death are not overshadowed by it. But 
the gods, as well as mortals, must have their offering-tree, 
and one naturally of far greater magnitude. The animals 
described as living in the tree, bear, without doubt, an 
allusion to real symbols on the terrestrial one ; but un 
fortunately nothing worthy to be called a description of 
this tree has reached our time. There was on it a sort of 
weathercock, which is, perhaps, alluded to by the hawk 
Vedurfolnir. As from the ash Yggdrasil three roots issue 
in different directions, so from the Irminsul proceeded 
three or four great highways. According to the old scho 
liast on Adam of Bremen, such a tree which was green 
both summer and winter stood near the ancient temple 
at Upsala ; near which was the sacred spring, into which 
the offerings were sunk 3 . Ratatosk is a name of very 
doubtful etymon. Finn Magnusen would derive it from 
at rata, vagari, and tauta, susurrare, therefore (an animal) 
going up and down, whispering tales of strife between the 
serpent and the eagle. The names of the four harts are 
also the names of dwarfs, viz. Dam, swooning; Dvalin, 
torpid; Duneyr, the noisy, maker of din? Durathror, the 
door-breaker ? Nidhogg (of very doubtful etymon) is the 
gnawing serpent. The whole tree and its inmates are sig 
nificant, but an allegorical interpretation of them is no 
longer possible. The myth is both Indian and Lamaic. 
It is the tree of life, which gathers around it all higher 

1 Grimm, D. M. pp. 62, 63, from Willibaldi Vita Bonifacii. 

2 Grimm, D. M. p. 106, who gives the following passage from Ruodolf of 
Fulda : " Truncum ligni non parvse magnitudinis in altum erectum sub divo 
colebant, patria eum lingua Irminsul appellantes, quod Latine dicitur uni 
versalis columna, quasi sustinens omnia." 

Ed. Lindenbr. p. 61. 


creatures in one worship, as the earthly offering-tree 
assembled all followers of the same faith under its over 
shadowing branches. 

The goddesses of fate are called Noras 1 . The word 
Norn does not occur in any kindred dialect. They decide 
the fate of the hero, while they twist or spin the threads 
of destiny, and the extent of his dominion, by fastening 
and stretching it from one quarter of the earth to another 2 ; 
and herein they resemble the spinning Molpai, or Fame, 
only that the Northern picture is more comprehensive. 
Their functions are to point out, show, and to determine ; 
they show or make known that which was destined from 
the beginning, and determine that which shall take place 
in time. Of the Fylgiur and Hamingiur, a sort of guard 
ian angels, that accompany every mortal from the cradle 
to the grave, we have already spoken 3 . Nearly allied to, 
and almost identical with the Norns, are the Valkyriur. 
They are also called Valmeyiar (battle-maids), Skialdmeyiar 
(shield-maids), Hialmmeyiar (helm- maids), and Oskmeyiar, 
from their attendance on Odin, one of whose names is 
Oski. They spin and weave like the Norns. In Nials- 
saga 4 we read that Darrad (DorrirSr) looking through a 
chasm in a rock, saw women singing and weaving, with 
human heads for weights, entrails for woof and warp, 
swords for bobbins, and arrows for comb. In their appal 
ling song they designated themselves Valkyriur, and an 
nounced that their web was that of the looker-on, Darrad. 
At last they tore their work in fragments, mounted their 
horses, and six rode southwards, and six northwards 5 . 

The origin of the name of Mimir is unknown, and the 

1 Page 12. 2 Helgakv. Hundingsb. en fyrri, Str. 2-4. 

3 Pages 113, 115. 4 Cap. 158. 

5 On this Grimm (p. 397) not inaptly observes: " So at least may be 
understood the words vindum vindum vef Darraftar, though the whole 
story may have its origin in a vef darra Sar (tela jaculij. Comp. A. S. 
darrot>, a dart" The story has been beautifully versified by Gray. 


myth concerning him differs in the several sources. Ac 
cording to the Ynglinga-saga 1 , he was slain by the Vanir 2 , 
but of his fate no traces are to be found in either Edda. 
There was a tree apparently connected with Mimir, called 
Miotviftr, which is usually rendered by Middle tree, and 
is considered identical with Yggdrasil ; but Mimir dwelt 
under Yggdrasil s root. In the Voluspa 3 , the context 
evidently shows that the nether world is spoken of; here 
MiotvrSr appears manifestly to signify the tree of know 
ledge 4 . In the obscure Fiolsvinnsmal 5 , MimamerSr (Mi 
mir s tree) is spoken of, which spreads itself round all lands, 
is not injured by fire or iron, but few only know from what 
roots it springs; neither then is this Yggdrasil, whose 
roots are known. In the following strophes it appears 
that it went deep down to the nethermost region of earth. 
Here mention is also made of Thrymgioll 6 , a gate or lattice, 
made by Solblindi s (Night s) three sons. The meaning 
of all which seems to be, that, besides the heavenly tree, 
Yggdrasil, there was a tree under the earth, whose roots 
were lost in the abyss, and whose top spread itself in the 
horizon around all lands, on the limit of the upper and 
nether worlds ; and it was on this tree that Odin hung 
for nine nights, of whose roots no one had knowledge 7 . 
The rivers Gioll and Leipt flow near to men, and thence 
to Hel 8 . Gioll (Ger. Gall = Schall) signifies sound; it 
probably means the horizon, and has reference to the 
popular belief of the sun s sound, when it goes down 9 , and 
when it rises, or when day breaks forth. Leipt the name 
of the other river signifies lightning, flash. Both words 
may then denote the glittering stripe of the horizon. 

i Cap. 4. 2 Str. 2, 47. 3 Str. 50. 

4 Page 79. s Str. 20, 21. 6 Str. 10, 11. 

7 RunatalsK Str. 1. 8 Grimnism. Str. 28. 

9 The skreik of day. Hunter s Hallamshire Glossary. Our break 
of day. (?) See Grimm s remarks on the A. S. word woma (da3g-woma, 
degred-\v6ma) in Andreas und Elene, p. xxx. and D. M. pp. 131, 132. 


Mimir is also called Hoddmimir ] , which has been rendered 
Circle-Mimir or Sphere- Mimir } as alluding to the circle 
of the horizon. Awaiting the regeneration of mankind, 
the original matter of the new human race will be pre 
served in Hoddmimir s holt or wood 2 . This explanation 
is confirmed by the SolarljoiS 3 , where it is said, "in full 
horns they drank the pure mead from the ring- (circle-) 
god s fountain." According to a popular belief in Ger 
many, Denmark and England, a golden cup, or hidden 
treasure lies where the rainbow apparently touches the 
horizon. This seems a remnant of the belief in Mimir s 
spring, in which wisdom s golden treasure was con 
cealed 4 . 

War burst forth in the world when men pierced Gull- 
veig (gold) through with their spears, and burnt her in 
the high one s hall 5 . That is, when they hammered and 
forged gold, and bestowed on it a certain value, then the 

1 It is far from certain that Mimir and Hoddmimir are identical. 

2 Page 84. 3 Str . 56 . 

4 The name Mimir signifies having knowledge, and seems identical with 
A. S. meomer, Lat. memor. The giants, who are older than the ^Esir, 
saw further into the darkness of the past. They had witnessed the cre 
ation of the jEsir and of the world, and foresaw their destruction. On 
both points the ^Esir must seek knowledge from them, a thought repeat 
edly expressed in the old mythic poems, but nowhere more clearly than 
in the Voluspa, in which a Vala or prophetess, reared among the giants, 
is represented rising from the deep to unveil time past and future to gods 
and men. It is then this wisdom of the deep that Mimir keeps in his 
well. The heavenly god Odin himself must fetch it thence, and this takes 
place in the night, when the sun, heaven s eye, is descended behind the 
brink of the disk of earth into the giants world. Then Odin explores the 
secrets of the deep, and his eye is there pledged for the drink he obtains 
from the fount of knowledge. But in the brightness of dawn, when the 
sun again ascends from the giants world, then does the guardian of the 
fount drink from a golden horn the pure mead that flows over Odin s 
pledge. Heaven and the nether world communicate mutually their wis 
dom to each other. Through a literal interpretation of the foregoing myth 
Odin is represented as one-eyed. Keyser, Relig. Forfatn. pp. 25, 26. 

5 Page 14. 


idea of property arose, a distinction between mine and 
thine, and Heidi (Heijri, from herSr, honour, dignity) or 
riches awakened desire. 

Odin is Allfather, the universal ruler over all, his nature 
is, therefore, manifold. He is the world s creator, the 
father of time, the lord of gods and men, and of all nature, 
the god of heaven, the king of the year, the god of war, 
and giver of victory. He operates through heaven and 
earth, but, at the same time, allies himself with the giants 
and powers of the deep, as the spirit that operates through 
out the material world. And from all these relations his 
sons proceed, who are a part of his essence. He is heaven ; 
his eye, the sun, looks out over all on earth, and at night 
beholds all in the deep. He has connection with Earth, 
and becomes the father of Thor, the thunder. He who 
quickens all nature has intercourse with the giant powers, 
and begets the unperishing Vidar 1 . As god of time and 
king of the year, he with Frigg 2 begets Baldur 3 , the 
bright summer. Hod also, the dark nights of winter, who 
slays Baldur 4 , and Vali 5 , the forthcoming new year, who 
avenges him, are likewise his children. As lord of the 
intellectual world he is father of Bragi 6 , the god of elo 
quence and poetry. As god of war, or father of hosts 
(HeriafoiSr), he begets Hermod 7 , the spirit, who goes on 
his messages ; sends Ty 6 , the god of valour and honour, 
into the heat of battle j and his maidens, the Valkyriur, 
choose the heroes that shall be his guests in Valhall, the 
hall of the chosen. He is the heavenly image of earthly 
kings, surrounded by his men, the ^Esir, with his skald, 
Bragi 6 , and his supreme judge, Forseti 8 . As ruler of 
heaven, he dwells in Valaskialf 9 , and sits on a throne in 
Hlidskialf 9 . As the Einheriar s prince, he dwells in Glads- 

1 Pages 29, 84. 2 Page 31. 3 Page 22. 

4 Pages 29, 74. 5 Page 76. 6 Page 28. 

7 Page 21. 8 Page 30. 9 Page 11. 


heim 1 , and gathers them around him in Valhall. As king 
of mind, he daily visits Saga, the goddess of history, in 
her abode, Sockquabeck 2 ; and this, his mental dominion, 
is further indicated by his ravens, Hugin and Munin 3 
(thought and memory). Odin is described as a tall, one- 
eyed old man, with a long beard, a broad-brimmed hat, a 
wide, blue or variegated, rough cloak, with a spear (Gung- 
nir) in his hand, and the ring Draupnir on his arm. On 
his shoulders sit his two ravens, his two wolves lie at his 
feet, and Charles s wain rolls above his head. He sits on 
a high seat (as he was represented at Upsala), whence he 
sees over the whole world. 

The following account of his appearing to King Olaf 
Tryggvason is particularly interesting. 

" The first evening that King Olaf kept Easter at Og- 
valdsnses, there came an old man, of very shrewd discourse, 
one-eyed, of sombre look, and with a broad-brimmed hat. 
He entered into conversation with the king, who found 
great pleasure in talking with him, for he could give 
information of all countries both ancient and modern. The 
king asked him about Ogvald, after whom the naze and 
the dwelling were called, and the old man told him about 
Ogvald and the cow that he worshiped, seasoning his 
narrative with old proverbs. Having thus sat until late 
in the night, the bishop reminded the king that it was 
time to retire to rest. But when Olaf was undressed and 
had lain down in bed, the old guest came again and sat 
on the footstool, and again conversed long with him ; for 
the longer he spoke the longer did Olaf wish to hear him. 
The bishop then again reminded the king that it was 
time to sleep. Unwilling as he was, for he was very loth 
to end their conversation, he nevertheless laid his head 
on the pillow, and the guest departed. Scarcely however 
was the king awake, before his first thought was his guest, 
1 Page 11. 2 Page 34. 3 p age 19< 


whom he ordered to be called, but he was nowhere to be 
found. It now was made known that while preparations 
were making for the feast, there came an elderly man, 
whom no one knew, to the cook, and said they were cook 
ing some bad meat, and that it was not fitting to set such 
on the king s table on so great a festival; and there 
upon gave him two thick, fat sides of an ox, which he 
cooked with the other meat. The king commanded them to 
burn the whole together, to cast the ashes into the sea, and 
prepare some other food ; for it was now manifest to him 
that the guest was the false Odin, in whom the heathens 
had so long believed, and whose tricks he now saw 1 / 

ILLUSTRATION. The name Odin (OSinn, Ohg. Wu- 
otan) has been satisfactorily interpreted. It is derived 
from vafta, to go, Lat. vadere, pret. 63, or strictly, vo$ ; 
whence the double participle oiSinn and 6$r, the impetuous 
disposition or mind. Hence it denotes the all-pervading, 
spiritual godhead. In accordance with this interpretation 
are the words of Adam of Bremen : " Wodan, id est, 
fortior" (furor?). In the Grisons, Wut signifies idol. 
The Wiithendes Heer (Wild Hunt) of the Germans is 
ascribed to Odin. To the god of war the name is also 
appropriate, as at vafta uppa signifies to attack in battle. 
He pervades not only the living, but the dead. Nine 
songs of power (fimbul-lioft) he learned from Bolthorn, 
Bestla s father 2 ; obtained possession of Mimir s head 3 , arid 
embraced Gunnlod 4 ; he is likewise the lord of spectres 
(drauga drottinn) 5 . It is also said, that by the aid of cer 
tain incantations, sung by the dwarf Thiodreyrir, the ^Esir 
acquired power or strength (afl), the elves fame, advance 
ment, prosperity (frami), Hroptatyr or Odin thought, re- 
flection (hyggia) 6 . Odin s oldest habitation was Valaskialf, 

1 Saga Olafs Tryggv. quoted by Petersen, N. M., p. 161. 

2 Runtals>. Str. 3, and page 4. 3 Page 15. 

4 Page 42. 5 Page 15, note 5 . 6 RunatalsJ*. Str. 23. 


which he built for himself in the beginning of time 1 . The 
signification of this word is extremely doubtful. Grimm 
is inclined to consider the first part of the compound as 
identical with Val in Valhall, Valkyria, and bearing an 
allusion to Odin s own name of ValfaSir ; skialf (which sig 
nifies tremor) he regards as expressing the trembling mo 
tion of the air, like the first syllable of Bifrost 2 . Another 
derivation is from the verb at vsela, to build with art, 
whence comes the participle valr, artificially built, round, 
vaulted*. This interpretation is, moreover, corroborated 
by a passage in the Grimnismal 4 . Skialf may also be in 
terpreted bench, seat, shelf. His throne in Valaskialf was 
Hlidskialf (from li$, door, window, lid) and skialf as 
above. As god of war, Odin s abode was in Gladsheim 
(the home of gladness and splendour). There is his hall 
Valhall (from valr, the fallen in battle), of kindred origin 
with the first syllable in Valkyria; a chooser (fern.) of the 
fallen. Here we meet with the goat Heidrun (from herSr, 
clear, serene, and renna, to run, flow), that is, the clear, 
heavenhj air, whence mead comes, like honey- dew, from 
YggdrasiPs top. By the goat may possibly be typified 
the whiteness and abundance of sustenance. The tree 
Lserad (that which produces Ise or calm) signifies the higher 
region of the air, where the winds do not rage. Under 
the emblem of Eikthyrnir, the oak-t horned stag (from eik, 
oak, and J?orn, thorn), are represented the branches of the 
tree, that project like the antlers of a stag. From its horn 
flow many rivers, which are enumerated in the Grimnis 
mal, of which some flow near the gods, others near men, 
and thence to Hel. Of those that flow near the gods, 
some are designated the deep, the wide, the striving, the 

1 Page 11. 2 D. M. p. 778, note. 3 See Hymiskv. Str. 30. 

4 Str. 6. Valaskialf heitir, Valaskialf it is called, 

er vaelti ser which for himself constructed 

Ass i ardaga. Odin in days of yore. 


loud-sounding } etc.; of those that take their course by 
men, the friendly, way-knowing, folk-griping, useful, ferti 
lizing, rushing, swelling, roaring, etc. All these names, as 
well as the whole context, which begins with the upper 
air, and ends with the before-mentioned Gioll and Leipt, 
show that by these rivers nothing more is meant than the 
higher and lower clouds. Through some of these, too, the 
Thunder-god must pass on his way to the place of meet 
ing under Yggdrasil, as he could not go over the rainbow 
without setting it on fire. These are named Kormt and 
Ormt, and the two Kerlaugar, names which cannot be ex 
plained. The foregoing may serve as examples of the old 
enigmatic, periphrastic way of expressing very simple 
things, and, I believe, no deeper signification is to be 
sought for. The chosen heroes were called Einheriar 
(from einn, one, chosen, single, and heri, lord, hero), also 
Odin s Oskasynir 1 ; Odin himself, as god of war, being 
named Cski, the granter of wishes*. The number of the 
Valkyriur is sometimes three, sometimes nine, also thir 
teen, and twenty-seven, sometimes an indefinite number. 
The youngest Norn, Skulld, was one of them. They crave, 
and long after war. They are white maidens that ride 
through the air, from the manes of whose horses dew falls 
in the valleys, and hail on the high woods 3 . Their names 
have reference sometimes to war, sometimes to clouds, 
rain and wind : as Hild and Gunn, war ; Svafa, the hover 
ing, impending-, Kara, wind; Goll, the same word as the 
river Gioll; Sigurdrifa and Sigrun, from sigr, victory, and 
drifa, to drive. They are also called Oskmeyiar 4 . Odin s 
spear, Gungnir (from at gungna, to shake, brandish), is a 
symbol of his warlike might. His horse Sleipnir 5 (from 
sleipr, smooth, gliding] is described as having eight legs, 

1 Gylf. 20. 2 Page 15, note 5 . Grimm, D.M. p. 126. 

3 Helgakv. Hatingask. Str. 28. 

4 Oddrunar-gratr, Str. 18. Grimm, D. M. p. 376. 5 Page 36. 


whereby it is meant merely to express his great speed, as 
Odin s horse is mentioned elsewhere as four-footed. Like 
his shield, Odin s horse was white, in allusion probably to 
the clearness of heaven. In the myth of Sleipnir s birth, 
Svadilfori is the winter s cold (according at least to Finn 
Magrmsen), from svaiS, a heap of melting snow, therefore 
that which brings sleet and snow-storms ; arid the simplest 
interpretation of a part of the myth is, perhaps, the follow 
ing. Loki (fire, heat), who was probably desirous of rest 
ing a while, persuaded the ^Esir to allow the stranger ar 
chitect (Winter) to raise a fortress of ice, which he began 
with his assistant, the horse Svadilfori, that is, the intense 
cold. But while he was still engaged on the work, the 
gods saw that the beauty of life, Freyia, would be lost to 
them, and the sun and moon hidden in the foul giant s 
eternal fog. Whereupon they caused Loki to connect 
himself with Svadilfori, from which union was born the 
gray colt, Sleipnir (the wind), which demolished the ice- 
mansion, and soon increased in growth, so that the god of 
the year (Odin) could mount his steed, the cooling wind 
of summer l . That the wind is betokened is apparent from 
the popular belief in Meklenburg, that on Wednesday 
(Woden s day) no flax is weeded, that Woden s horse may 
not trample on the seed ; nor may any flax remain on the 
distaff during the twelve days of Christmas, lest Woden s 
horse ride through and tangle it, and that in Skania and 
Bleking, after the harvest, a gift was left on the field for 
Odin s horse 2 . It was also on this horse that Odin con- 

1 See a similar tradition from Courland, of the giant Kinte, and his 
white mare, Frost, in Grimm, p. 516. 

2 Grimm, p. 140. In Lower Saxony also it is customary to leave a 
bunch of grain on the field for Woden s horse. In the Isle of Mb en a 
sheaf of oats was left for his horse, that he might not hy night trample on 
the seed. Woden occasionally rides also in a chariot. Petersen, N. M. 
p. 173. Grimm, p. 138. 

In Oland, Hogrum parish, there lie great stones called Odin s flisor 
(Odini lamella), concerning which the story goes, that Odin being about 


veyed Hading across the sea, wrapping him in his man 
tle, so that he could see nothing 1 . It is on the same 
white horse that he rides as the Wild Huntsman 2 . In 
the later sagas (as in that of Hrolfr Kraki), we already 
find it believed of Odin, that he was an evil and perfidious 
being, who mingled in the tumult of battle, and caused 
the fall of warriors. In the middle age, this belief became 
more and more prevalent. To the singular method, by 
which, according to Saxo, one might " prsesentem co- 
gnoscere Martem 3 ," a corresponding tradition exists even in 
the heart of Germany. We are told, that as some people 

to feed his horse, took the bit from his mouth, and laid it on a huge block 
of stone, which by the weight of the bit was split into two parts, that were 
afterwards set up as a memorial. According to another version of the 
story, Odin, when about to fight with an enemy, being at a loss where to 
tie his horse, ran to this stone, drove his sword through it, and tied his 
horse through the hole. The horse, however, broke loose, the stone sprang 
asunder and rolled away, making a swamp called Hogrumstrask, so deep 
that although several poles have been bound together, they have not suf 
ficed to fathom it. Geijer s Schw. Gesch. i. 110. Abr. Ahlquist, Glands 
Historia, i. 37 ; ii. 212, quoted by Grimm, D. M. p. 141. 

A small water-fowl (tringa minima, inquieta, lacustris et natans) is to 
the Danes and Icelanders known by the name of Oftinshani, Odin s fugl. 
In an Old High-German gloss mention occurs of an Utinswaluwe (Odin s 
swallow). Ib. p. 145. 

1 Saxo, p. 40. 2 Grimm, D. M. p. 880. 

3 Saxo, p. 106 ; Grimm, p. 891. Biarco being unable to perceive Odin 
on his white horse, giving aid in a battle to the Swedes, says to Ruta : 
Et nunc ille ubi sit, qui vulgo dicitur Othin 
Armipotens, uno semper contentus ocello ? 
Die mihi, Ruta, precor, usquam si conspicis ilium ? 
To which she answers : 

Adde oculum propius, et nostras prospice chelas, 
Ante sacraturus victrici lumina signo, 
Si vis pra3sentem tuto cognoscere Martem. 
Whereupon Biarco replies : 

Quantumcunque albo clypeo sit tectus et altum (I. album) 
Flectat equum, Lethra nequaquam sospes abibit ; 
Fas est belligerum bello prosternere divum. 
Petersen, N. M., cites Orvar Odd s Saga (c. 29) for a similar instance. 


were one day walking on the Odenberg, they heard a 
beating of drums, but saw nothing; whereupon a wise 
man bade them, one after another, look through the ring 
which he formed by setting his arm a-kimbo. They did 
so, and immediately perceived a multitude of warriors en 
gaged in military exercises, going into and coming out of 
the Odenberg 1 . Many authors have identified the Odin 
of the North with the Indian Budha; of their original 
identity there can hardly exist a doubt, though the myths 
relating to each have naturally taken widely different di 
rections. What I have seen hitherto in opposition to this 
opinion seems to me to favour, if not confirm it. Schlegel 
repudiates it because Budha signifies the Wise, and is an 
adjectival form from bud , to think-, but Oftinn is a simi 
lar form from va$a, so that the verbal identity can hardly 
be greater ; the form o^r, ingenium, anima sensitiva, agree 
ing with 6<5inn, shows also that the signification of both 
words is one and the same. 

The other gods also, as princes, had their horses, though 
the authorities do not state which belonged to each in 
particular, and their names bear a close resemblance to 
each other. They may be rendered the Shining, the Golden, 
the Precious stone, the Rays shedding on the way, Silver- 
mane 2 , Sinew-strong, the Ray, the Pale of head, Gold-mane* 
and Light-foot. Gold-mane was HeimdalPs, in allusion 
to the radiant colours of the rainbow. 

War was too weighty an affair not to have, besides the 
universal ruler Odin, its appropriate deity. This was Ty 3 , 
who, at the same time, was god of courage and honour. 
He is a son of Odin, but his mother was of giant race, 
light-browed and radiant with gold 4 . No one equals him 

1 Grimm, p. 891. 

2 Gulltoppr, Silfrintoppr horses were called, whose manes (toppr, Ger. 
zopf ) were intwined with gold or silver. Grimm, p. 623. 

3 Page 28. 4 Page 67. 


in daring ; in the midst of the battle s rage, he fearlessly 
stretches forth his hand decked with the martial gauntlet. 
He is the Mars of the Northern nations. 

ILLUSTRATION. Tyr is the general appellation of a di 
stinguished divinity, though particularly of the god of 
military prowess and honour (from tyr, tir, honour]. His 
name is found in 0. Nor. Tigsdagr, Dan. Tirsdag, A. S. 
Tiwesdseg, Dies Martis, Tuesday ; also in Tighraustr, va 
liant as Ty. The strength of beer, too, is described as 
blandinn megin-tiri, medicata magna virtute 1 . Loki up 
braids him with his inability ever to bear a shield, or to 
use two hands, and further informs him that his wife had a 
son by him (Loki), and that Ty did not get a rag or a 
farthing as damages 2 . That Odin is his father and the 
beautiful giantess his mother, may signify that she is the 
ennobled giant-spirit which through Odin connects itself 
with the M sir-race 3 . 

Odin s wife was Frigg (the earth). She occurs but 
rarely under the general appellation of earth, but often 
under other denominations, according to the several points 
of view from which she is considered. The supreme among 
all the goddesses is Frigg, the fertile summer-earth, who 
more than all others bewails her noble son Baldur s (the 
summer s) death. Her attendants are Fulla (plenty) 4 , a 
pleasing emblem of the luxuriant aspect of the blooming 
fields ; Hlin, (the mild protecting warmth) ; and Gna, who 
as the gentle breeze rides on her swift courser, bearing to 
every land the produce of the fruitful earth 5 . Under an- 

1 Brynhildarkv. 5. 2 Lokaglep. 38, 40. 

3 Besides numerous names of places, the name of Ty (Tyr) appears also 
in the following names of plants : O. Nor. Tysfiola, viola Mortis ; Tyrhialm, 
aconitum, monk s hood, Dan. Troldhat ; 0. Nor. TyviSr, Dan. Tyved, Tys- 
ved, daphne mezereon, spurge laurel. Grimm, p. 180. 4 Page 35. 

5 In Sweden, Fyen and some other places, the constellation Orion is 
called by the common people Frigg s rok (distaff). The orchis odoratis- 
sima is called Friggjar-gras and hjona-gras (marriage grass). 


other form the earth appears as Rind, the hard-frozen 
winter earth, with whom Odin begets Vali, the bright, 
winter days, with clear, hard frost, which passes over to 
spring. Frigg s rivals are Gerd and Gunnlod : the first 
may be regarded as the germinating spring earth, which 
in seed-time is embraced by Frey ; the latter is the au 
tumnal earth, which is embraced by Odin, and gives him 
Suttung s mead 1 , at the time when the labours of summer 
and warfare are over, when the harvest songs resound in 
the field, and the shout of warriors in the hall. But 
neither of these two are strictly earth s divinities. As 
mother of Thor, the thunder, the earth is called Fiorgyn 
(Fiorgvin) 2 (Goth. Fairguni 8 , mountain] and Hlodyn 4 , an 
other name for mountain, which when begrown with grass, 
is represented as Thor s wife, Sif 5 . 

ILLUSTRATION. The general name of the earth is iorS. 
Frigg or Frygg is related to the Lat. Fruges, the root of 
which is found in the participle fructus, Ger. Frucht, Dan. 
Frugt ; it therefore denotes the fruitful earth. Her dwell 
ing is called Fensalir, the lower and humid parts of the 
earth; for as the divinity of the fertile earth, she does 
not rule over the high, barren mountains. Fulla, the full, 
abundant, the luxuriant cornfield, is opposed to Sif, the 
grass-grown mountain. Hlin or Hlyn (from hly, at hlua, 
at hlyna, calescere], the mild, refreshing warmth. The dan 
ger from which she protects is cold. That her name de 
notes a property of earth, appears from the circumstance, 
that Frigg herself is also called Hlin 6 . By Gna, and its 
derivative at gnsefa (to be borne on high) is expressed 
motion on high, in the air; as is also apparent from the 

1 Pages 41 sqq. 2 Page 21. 

3 Grimm, pp. 156, 610, and Pref. to 1st edit. p. xvi. 

4 Page 21, note 2 . 

5 See p. 21 for other interpretations of Fiorgyn and Hlodyn. 

6 Page 79. Voluspa, Str. 54. 


name of her horse, Hofvarpnir (the hoof-caster), and that 
of its sire, Hamskerpnir (skin-drier), or Hattstrykir (hat- 
sweeper), and of its dam, GarSrofa 1 (house, or fence- 
breaker). The word rindr is still used in Iceland to de 
note barren land. It is the Engl. rind. Rind betokens 
the frost-hardened surface of the earth. Of her son Van s 
birth the Eddas supply no details : it is merely said, She 
gave birth to him i vestur solum 2 (in the halls of the 
West), for which a various reading has i vetur solum (in 
the halls of winter), which suits remarkably well with 
Rind. In Saxo 3 we find the chief features of a myth, 
which has there assumed an almost historic colouring, but 
evidently belongs to our category. It is a description of 
Odin s love for Rinda, and forms a counterpart to the 
myths of Odin and Gunnlod 4 , Frey and Gerd 5 : " Ros- 
tiophus 6 Phinnicus having foretold to Odin, that by Rinda, 
the daughter of the king of the Rutheni 7 , he would have 
a son, who should avenge the death of Baldur; Odin, 
concealing his face with his hat, enters into that king s 
service, and being made general of his army, gains a great 
victory; and shortly after, by his single arm, puts the 
whole army of the enemy to flight with immense slaugh 
ter. Relying on his achievements, he solicits a kiss from 
Riu da, in place of which he receives a blow, which does 
not, however, divert him from his purpose. In the follow 
ing year, disguised in a foreign garb, he again seeks the 
king, under the name of Roster the smith, and receives 
from him a considerable quantity of gold, to be wrought 
into female ornaments. Of this, besides other things, he 

1 Page. 35. 2 Vegtamskv. Str. 16. 

3 Pages 126, sg. ed. Muller. 

4 Page 40. s Page 46< 

6 Hross>iof was one of the Frost-giant Hrfmnir s children ; it is there 
fore clear that with him it is the middle of winter. Hyndlulj. Str. 31. 

7 The Russians. 


fabricates a bracelet and several rings of exquisite beauty, 
which, in the hope of gaining her love, he presents to 
Rinda, but by whom he is repulsed even more ignomi- 
niously than before. He then comes as a young warrior, 
but on demanding a kiss, receives a blow which lays him 
tlat on his face. On this he touches her with a piece of 
bark, on which certain incantations were inscribed, whereby 
she is rendered as one frantic. He then appears in the 
guise of a woman, under the name of Vecha, and is ap 
pointed to the office of Rinda s waiting-maid. Availing 
himself of her malady, he prescribes a potion, but which, 
on account of her violence, he declares cannot be admi 
nistered, unless she is bound. Deceived by the female 
attire of the leech, the king orders her to be bound forth 
with, when Odin, taking advantage of her helplessness, 
becomes by her the father of a son," whose name is, not 
Yali, but Bo (Bous), but who, nevertheless, is identical 
with Vali, being the avenger of Baldur. The signification 
of the myth is evident enough, particularly when compared 
with those allied with it. Rinda is the hard-frozen earth, 
that repulses Odin ; the ornaments which he proffers her, 
are the glories of spring and summer; as a warrior, he 
represents war to her as the most important occupation of 
summer. But by his four appearances are not meant, as 
some have imagined, the four seasons, but merely the 
hard winter and its transition to spring. Fiorgynn occurs 
once as a masculine, viz. as the father of Frigg 1 , but else 
where always as a feminine (Fiorgyn) and mother of Thor. 
Hlodyn, which also denotes the earth as the mother of 
Thor* is rightly referred to hlo, hearth, which is derived 
from at hlaSa, to heap up, load 2 , pret. hlo$. But Hlodyn 
does not denote the deity of the hearth, who could not in 
any way be mother of Thor; while if we only enlarge the 
idea, it will be clear that the word signifies a mountain, that 
i Skaldskap. 19. 2 Grimm, D. M. p. 235. 


which is piled up. In like manner, we shall presently see 
that another name for mountain, Hrugnir (Hrungnir), 
comes from at hriiga, to heap up, to lay stratum upon 
stratum. Both Fiorgyn, then, and Hlodyn fundamentally 
signify the same, viz. a mountain-, but the idea is viewed 
under different aspects, sometimes as the compact mass, 
sometimes as a pile of strata upon strata. 

Thor is the god of thunder; he dwells in Thrudheim \ 
the dense gloom of clouds 2 , and sends forth, from time to 
time, the gleaming lightning from his hall, Bilskirnir. 
His other names and attributes, as well as those of his at 
tendants, bear allusion to the rapid course of the thunder 
storm, terrific sounds, pernicious lightnings, together with 
the furious winds and deluging rains which accompany 
them. His crushing hammer 3 denotes the lightning; 
with that he visits rocks and sea, and nothing withstands 
its might. His strength is especially expressed by his 
belt 3 , the crash of thunder by his chariot 3 . We often 
find Loki (fire) in his train, and even as his hand-maiden 4 ; 
for the fire of the clouds is akin to earthly fire, but the 
latter fights more with craft, the former with force. Thor 
receives slaves 3 , partly, perhaps, as the divinity particu 
larly worshiped by the Fins, before the spread of the As- 
religion in the North, partly because slaves could not fol 
low their masters to Valhall, but must occupy an inferior 
place. According to old Finnish usage, bridegroom and 
bride are consecrated, while the father strikes fire with 
flint and steel; fire-apparatus is also given to the dead. 
By the Fins Thor was worshiped as the chief god, and a 
portion of his worship passed into the As-religion. 

As Thor is the thunder-storm, so are his journeys its 
divers manifestations. As the god of clouds, he is scarcely 

1 Page 21. 

2 Keyser (p. 34) derives Thrudheim from JmiSr, i. e. >rottr, strength, 
endurance. 3 p age 22. 4 p age 55^ 

i 2 


ever at home with the JEsir, but visits the giants, the 
rocks and mountains, and it is only when the gods call 
on him, that he is at hand. Sometimes we find him in 
conflict with Midgard s serpent l , which he strikes to the 
bottom of the ocean, or raises in the air ; he hurls the 
roaring waves against the cliffs that project from the deep, 
and forms whirlpools in the rocky halls ; sometimes he is 
contending with the giant (mountain) Hrungnir 2 , the 
crown of whose head pierces the clouds, and who threatens 
to storm the heavens. Thor cleaves his jagged summit, 
while Thialfi 3 , his swift follower, overcomes the weak clay 
hill by the mountain s side. He also visits the metal- 
king, Geirrod, 4 passes through the mountain streams into 
the clefts, and splits their stones and ores. In vain will 
the giant Thrym 5 , groaning in his impotence, imitate the 
Thunderer ; in vain he hopes that the goddess of fruitful- 
ness will be his ; he gets neither her nor the Thunderer s 
might, who despises the powerless matter s presumptuous 
and bootless attempt. The thunderbolt returns to the 
hand of the Thunderer. In winter only Thor loses a part 
of his resistless might : his hammer rests not, but its force 
is deadened with Skryrair on the ice-rocks 6 . 

ILLUSTRATION. Thorr, as Grimm observes, seems con 
tracted from Thonar, whence the modern Ger. Donner, 
thunder. Hereto belong also the Latin tonus, tonare,tonitru. 
Thrudheim, or Thrudvang, where he dwells, is from jmrSr, 
strong, strictly, closely packed together. Bilskirnir is from 
bil, an interval (of time or space), and skir, clear, bright ; 
skirnir, that which illumines, glitters in the air. The masses, 
like strata, lying one over another, are represented as the 
several stories of the dwelling. The rolling thunder is 
expressed by Thor s chariot, rei (Lat. rheda) ; whence 
also the thunder-crash is called rer3ar-]?ruma (the rattling 

1 Page 65. 2 Page 70. 3 From >ialf, severe labour. 

4 Page 52. 5 Page 54. 6 Pages 58, sq. 


of the chariot. The names of the goats, Tanngniost and 
Tanngrisnir l , have also a reference to sound ; the first 
from gnist, gnash. Thorns chariot is drawn by goats, pro 
bably because those animals inhabit the highest mountain- 
tops ; whether they were accounted sacred to Thor, is un 
known. The Ossetes, in the Caucasus, a half Christian 
race, sacrifice a black goat to Elias, and hang the skin on 
a pole, when any one is killed by lightning 2 . The rapid 
course and warmth are expressed in Ving-Thor, or the 
Winged Thor, and in his foster-children, Vingnir and 
Hlora l j male and female ; the latter is akin to hlser, 
hlyr, warm, lukewarm, and with at hloa 3 , to glow. From 
hloa or hlora Thorns name of Hloridi, or Hlorridi 4 , is 
most readily derived, the latter part of which is formed 
from rerS, a chariot, as Hallinskeidi 5 is from skeiiS. Auku- 
Thor, or Oku-Thor, is by the ancient writers referred to 
aka, to drive, though it is probably no other than Tkor s 
Finnish name, Ukko-Taran. The thunderbolt and the 
lightning are denoted by the hammer Mib lnir, the crusher, 
bruiser, from at mala (molva, melia)., to crush. It is also 
called J?ru3hamar, signifying, according to Finn Magnusen, 
malleus compactus. Megingiardar [ , from megin, strength, 
is literally the girth, or belt, of power. Thor is also called 
Veor (Vor), and Midgard s Veor 6 , the signification of 
which is extremely doubtful. As followers of Thor, arc- 
named Thialfi and Roskva, brother and sister, conse 
quently kindred ideas. Roskva signifies the quick, active, 
and her brother, who ran a race with Hugi 7 (thought), is 
also a good runner. Thialfi may not improbably denote the 
rushing thunder- shower, which will well suit his conflict 
with, and easy conquest of, the clay-giant Mockurkalfi 8 ; 
for it is undoubtedly either the wind that blows him down, 

1 Page 22. 2 Grimm, D. M. p. 159. 3 Grimmsm. Str. 29. 

4 Page 21. 5 Page 29. 6 Hyrniskv. Str. 11, 21. 

" Page 61. 8 Page 71. 


or the rain that washes him away. The father of Thialfi 
and Roskva is in Snorri s Edda called a peasant, but in 
Ssemund s Edda *, he is designated a hravnbui 2 (sea- 
dweller), a name well suited to the character just assigned 
to his son. 

The stories of Thorns journeys are chiefly found in 
Snorri s Edda, though allusions to many of them occur in 
that of Ssemund. Their mythic import is unquestionable. 
The giant Hymir (from hum or humr, the sea, Gr. Kv/jia} 3 , 
is manifestly, both from his name and from the matter 
of the poem, a sea- giant ; he represents the cliffs which 
stretch themselves out from the land into the vast unfa 
thomable deep, where lies the Midgard s serpent. The 
drinking cup is smashed against his forehead, viz. the 
clinV projecting summits 4 . The kettle signifies the whirl 
pool among the rocks. Hrungnir, or Hrugnir (from at 
hriiga, to heap up) is the mountain formed by stratum upon 
stratum, whose head penetrates the clouds, and contends 
with heaven. 

The following popular tradition from the Upper Thelle- 
mark is both interesting in itself and will serve as a fur 
ther illustration of the story of Thor and Hrungnir. 

At the upper end of the long Totak water in the Upper 
Thellemark is a very remarkable and imposing assemblage 
of stones which, seen from the water, resembles a town 
with its gables and towers ; of its origin the peasants re 
late the following story : 

1 Hymiskv. Str. 35, hravn-hvala ; Str. 37, hravn-bua, also Helgakv. 
Hadingask. Str. 25. 

2 Hravn (Hron) is the Anglo-Saxon hron, signifying the ocean. In 
this sense hron-rad (the sea-road) is used in Caedmon (pp. 13, 19), and in 
the Legend of St. Andrew (v. 740) hron-fixas (sea-fishes), but where it is 
written horn-fixas. So Beowulf, v. 19, ofer hron-rade (over the sea- 

3 Olafsen s Nord. Digtek. p. 23. Njala, Ind., Skaldskap. 61. 

4 Page 68. 


1 ( On the plain now covered by the stones there were for 
merly two dwellings, and, as some say, a church, whence 
the largest stone, which rises amid the others like a church 
roof, is to this day called the church- stone. In these two 
dwellings two weddings were once held, at which, accord 
ing to the old Norwegian fashion, the horn with foaming 
beer was in constant circulation among the guests. It 
occurred to the god Thor that he would drive down and 
visit his old friends the Thellemarkers. He went first to 
the one wedding, was invited in, presented with strong 
beer, the bridegroom himself taking up the cask, drinking 
to Thor and then handing him the barrel. The god was 
pleased both with the drink itself and with the liberal 
manner in which it was given, and went greatly gratified 
to the other wedding party, to taste their wedding beer. 
There he was treated nearly in the same manner, but a 
want of respect was manifested in their not pledging him 
in a general bowl. The god, perhaps a little affected by 
the deep draught he had taken at the other wedding, be 
came furiously wroth, dashed the bowl on the ground, and 
went away swinging his hammer. He then took the bridal 
pair that had presented him with the cask, together with 
their guests, and set them on a hill, to be witness of and 
to secure them from the destruction he in his revenge had 
destined for those who by their niggardliness had offended 
Asgard s most powerful god. With his c tungum-hamr? 1 
he then struck the mountain with such force that it 
toppled down and buried under it the other bridal pair 
with their habitation. But in his anger the god let his 
hammer slip from his hand, which flew down with the 
rocky fragments and was lost among them 2 . Thor had 
therefore to go down and seek after it, and began casting 
the fragments aside and turning and tugging them until 
he found his hammer. Hence it was that a tolerably good 
1 Heavy hammer. 2 It did not then return to his hand. See p. 39. 


path was formed through the stony heap, which to this 
day bears the name of Thor s way V 

Hrungnir s mountain-nature is also well expressed in 
the beginning of the narrative : the only beings for whom 
he entertains a regard, are the goddess of beauty herself, 
Freyia whom the giants constantly desire and Sif, who 
might clothe the mountains naked sides with grass. His 
abode is named Griotunagard 2 (from griot, stone, and tun, 
enclosure, Eng. town). It lies on the boundary between 
heaven and earth. The description of the giant himself 
portrays plainly enough a mountain with its summits ; 
nor does it require illustration that Thor cleaves his skull 
and the mass of rock, which he holds before him as a 
shield, with a thunderbolt. 

Like his father, Odin, Thor also manifested himself to 
King Olaf Tryggvason. As the latter was once sailing 
along the coast, a man hailed him from a projecting 
cliff, requesting to be taken on b. *rd, whereupon the 
king ordered the ship to steer to the spot arid the man 
entered. He was of lofty stature, youthful, comely, and 
had a red beard. Scarcely had he entered the vessel 
when he began to practise all sorts of jokes and tricks 
upon the crew, at which they were much amused. They 
were, he said, a set of miserable fellows, wholly un 
worthy to accompany so renowned a king or to sail in so 
fine a ship. They asked him whether he could relate 
something to them, old or new ? He said there were few 
questions they could ask him which he could not resolve. 
They now conducted him to the king, praising his vast 
knowledge, when the latter expressed the wish to hear one 
or other old history. " I will begin then/ said the man, 
" with relating how the land by which we are now sailing 
was in old times inhabited by giants, but that such a ge 
neral destruction befell those people, that they all perished 
1 Faye, p. 1. 2 Page 70. 


at once, except two women. Thereupon men from the 
east countries began to inhabit the country, but those 
giant women so troubled and plagued them that there was 
no living there until they thought of calling on this Red- 
beard to help them ; whereupon T straightway seized my 
hammer and slew the two women ; since which time the 
people of the country have continued to call on me for 
aid, until thou, king, hast so destroyed all my old friends 
that it were well worthy of revenge. At the same moment, 
regarding the king with a bitter smile, he darted over 
board with the swiftness of an arrow." In this wonder 
ful story we see expressed Thorns hostility to the giants, 
and their extirpation through him ; or, in other words, 
how by his operation he prepares and facilitates the cul 
ture of the earth among mankind 1 . 

Thor had a daughter named Thrud 2 (pniSr), and 
Hrungnir is called Thrud s thief or abducer (pniSar J?iofr) ; 
also an allusion to a mountain, which attracts the clouds ; 
Thrud, agreeably with what has been already said, being 
the dense thunder-cloud. Mockurkalfi (from mokkr, a 
collection of thick mist or clouds, and kalfr, the usual ex 
pression for any small thing with reference to a greater, 
as a calf to a cow, though usually applied to a little island 
lying close to a larger) is a giant of clay, not, like Hrung 
nir, of stone, and, therefore, denotes the lower earthy 
mountain. Thor s son, Modi 3 , signifies the courageous-, 
his other son, Magni 3 , the strong, may be compared with 
Odin s son Vali, whose name has the same signification. 
Both perform mighty deeds immediately after their birth ; 
whence it would seem, as Prof. Finn Magnusen is inclined 
to suppose, that Magni denotes a god of spring. A similar 
allusion is contained in the name of Groa, signifying causing 
to, or letting, grow. By the star OrvandiPs toe 4 is probably 

1 Saga Olafs Tryggvasonar, ii. p. 182. 2 Pages 22, 34. 

3 Page 22. 4 Page 71. 

i 5 


meant the small and scarcely visible star over the middle 
star in the pole of the wain. The frozen toe was, no doubt, 
the great toe, and is identical with the Diimeke or Hans 
Dumken (thumbkin) of the northern Germans, which is re 
garded as the driver of the carriage 1 . The rest of the myth 
seems inexplicable. Geirrod, who also in the Grimnismal 2 
appears as a giant 3 , is lord of the ores in the bowels of 
the earth. His name, as well as that of Grid (GrrSr), the 
giantess at the entrance of the mountain 4 , Jarnsaxa 5 and 
the like, have reference to metals, and have afterwards 
passed into names of weapons, as gri$, an axe 6 ; geir 
(A. S. gar), a dart. GriSarvollr, Grid s staff 4 , is also a 
metal rod. Thrym 7 (the drummer, thunderer) from at 
]?ruma, to thunder, make a thundering noise, is a fitting 
name for the giant who would rival the thunderer Thor, 
and fancied that the goddess of fertility and beauty would 
fall to his lot. Skrymir, or Skrymnir (from skrum, show, 
brag, feint) designates the crafty, false giant who by his 
magic deceives Thor. He is supposed to denote winter, 
a symbol of which is, moreover, his woollen glove 8 . The 
myth about Utgarda-Loki is probably a later addition, its 
object being apparently to represent the weakness of the 
JEsir-gods, in comparison with the Finnish divinity 9 . 

Thor s wife is Sif 10 . Loki (fire) destroyed her lovely 
locks, but the dwarfs, sons of Ivaldi u , who work in the 
earth, made her a new head of hair, the germinating, 

1 Grimm, D. M. p. 688. 2 Page 17. 

3 See Saxo, p. 420, for the account of Thorkill-Adelfar s perilous and 
marvellous journey to visit the giant Geruth (Geirrod). 

4 Page 53. 5 Page 28. 6 Egils Saga, p. 443. 

7 Page 54, and note. 

8 Page 58. F. Magnusen, Lex. Mythol. pp. 494, 630. 

9 It may rather, perhaps, be regarded as a burlesque on the old religion, 
composed at a period when common sense began to operate among the 
followers of the Odinic faith. 

10 Page 34. n Page 38. 


bright-green grass. Her (but not Thor s) son is Ull 
(winter), which proceeds from the mountains to the humid 
valleys. He is Baldur s (the summer s) brother, the deity 
of the skate or snow-shoe, of the chase, the bow and the 
shield (which is called his ship), and runs in snow-shoes 
out over the ocean. 

ILLUSTRATION. As Frigg has reference to the culti 
vated earth, so Thor s wife, Sif, denotes the mountains 
that surround it, but which are uncultivated. Siva, the 
corresponding deity of the Slaves and Wends, is, on the 
contrary, represented with an abundance of beautiful hair 
and crowned with a wreath of flowers, holding a golden 
apple in one hand, and a bunch of grapes and a green leaf 
in the other 1 . Here she represented the cultivated earth 
with its produce, while in the North she retains only her 
golden hair, and is limited to be the goddess of grass only ; 
while Frigg and Frey preside over the earth s fmitfulness. 
This appears, too, from the circumstance that Ull is her 
son. Haddr Sifjar (Sif s head of hair) 2 is a periphrasis for 
gold. In Saxo 3 there is a fragment of a myth of Oiler 
(Ullur), which is there treated historically. Odin is driven 
from Byzantium (Asgrad) by Oiler, who tyrannizes over 
Odin s subjects : the latter returns, wins back his domi 
nion by gifts, and Oiler is forced to flee to Sweden, 
where, as it were in a new world, he endeavoured to esta 
blish himself, but was slain by the Danes. This story has 
justly been regarded as a myth of the good dispenser of 
light, who is expelled by winter, but returns again to his 
dominion. Saxo in his recital makes mention of a bone, 
on which Oiler could cross the sea, which Finn Magnusen 4 

1 See a representation of her in Arnkiel, Cimbrische Heyden-Religion, 
i. p. 120 ; also in Vulpii Handworterbuch der deutschen Volker, etc., 1826, 
Tab. III. fig. 1. See also Lex, Mythol. p. 681. 

2 So read p. 34, note 3 . 3 Pages 130, 131. 4 Lex. Mythol. p. 765. 


has well explained to be skates, which in the earliest times 
were made of the bones of horses or oxen 1 . 

Loki is fire. In the beginning of time he was, as Lodur 2 , 
the mild, beneficent warmth, united with All-father ; 
but afterwards, like a fallen angel, having descended on 
earth, he became crafty, devastating and evil, like the de 
solating name. There he was born in the foliage, and 
had the wind for his father 3 . His brothers are devasta 
tion and ruin. At one time he nutters, like a bird, up 
along a wall, beats with his wings, and peeps in at a 
window, but his heavy feet cling to the earth 4 ; some 
times he flies, whirled by the storm-wind, over stock and 
stone, floating between heaven and earth 5 ; but while, as 
Lopt, he is traversing the free air, he, nevertheless, suffers 
himself to be shut up and tamed by hunger 4 ; the humid 
grass can bind his mouth, and yet his heart is not con 
sumed. It became so when he wrought and begat children 

1 And so in Iceland, even at the present day. The words of Saxo are : 
Fama est, ilium adeo praestigiarum usu calluisse, ut ad trajicienda maria 
osse, quod diris carminihus obsignavisset, navigii loco uteretur, nee eo 
segnius quam remigio praejecta aquarum obstacula superaret. p. 131. 
That such was also the custom in our own country in the 12th century, 
appears from a curious passage in Fitzstephen s Description of London, of 
which the following is a translation : "When that great pool, which 
washes the northern wall of the city is frozen, numerous bodies of young 
men go out to sport on the ice. These gaining an accelerated motion by 
running, with their feet placed at a distance from each other, and one side 
put forwards, glide along a considerable space. Others make themselves 
seats of ice like great millstones, when one sitting is drawn by many run 
ning before, holding each other s hands. During this rapid motion they 
sometimes all fall on their faces. Others, more skilled in sporting on 
the ice fit to their feet and bind under their heels the bones, i. e. the leg- 
bones, of animals, and holding in their hands poles with iron points, which 
they occasionally strike on the ice, are borne away with a speed like that 
of a bird flying, or an arrow from a bow." The great pool above alluded 
to afterwards gave place and name to Afoor-fields. 

2 Page 10. 3 Page 30. 4 Page 52. 5 Page 43. 


in the bowels of the earth, with giantesses and jarnvidiur, 
i. e. the metals and combustible parts of the earth. There 
he begat with Angurboda l (the announcer of sorrow), the 
wolf Feririr, Midgard s serpent and Hel. The ravenous 
wolf, (subterranean fire) would have destroyed the world, 
if the powerful gods had not chained it in the mountain- 
cavern; but even there the foam issues from its open jaws 
as a dense vapour, and sparkling smoke. The foul, perni 
cious Loki was by the gods thrust down into the earth and 
confined in its caverns ; there he yet works, though men 
notice it only when he moves, for then the earth trembles. 
The bonds yet hold him, but when they are loosed the 
gods will lose their sway over the world. Then will Loki 
come forth with his son Fenrir, whose under jaw is on earth, 
while his upper jaw reaches heaven 2 , and fills all the air 
with flame. The fire confined in the earth will also cause 
commotion in the sea ; then will the great serpent move 
itself in the deep, threaten the land and raise itself to 
heaven. The raging fire will cause death and desolation 
around it, etc. etc. 

ILLUSTRATION. The root of the word Loki is found in 
many languages, as Sansk. loc (lotsj), to shine; Lat. luceo, 
lux (lues) ; Kymr. Hug, fire ; 0. Nor. logi, flame, etc. He 
is a mixed being, good arid evil, but as terrestrial fire, par 
ticularly the latter. He is the cause of almost all evil, 
wherefore some connect his name with the Greek Ao^ao>, 
0. Nor. lokka, to entice 3 . His other name, Loptr, from lopt, 
air, Ger. Luft, signifies the aerial. In the Voluspa 4 the 

1 Page 31. 2 Pages 79,81. 

3 Asaloki forms a contrast to all the other gods. He is the evil prin 
ciple in all its varieties. As sensuality he runs through the veins of men ; in 
nature he is the pernicious in the air, the fire, the water ; in the lap of earth 
as the volcanic fire, in the ocean s depth as a fierce serpent, in the nether 
world as the pallid death. Hence he is not bound to any individual na 
ture ; like Odin he pervades all nature. Petersen, N. M. p. 355. 

4 Str. 55. 


wolf Fenrir is called Hvedrung s (Hve^rungs) son ; in like 
manner Hel is called Hvedrung s daughter l , the signifi 
cation of which is extremely doubtful. As the terrestrial 
fire, he has Farbauti for his father, from far, a ship, and 
bauta, to beat, therefore the ship-beater, an appropriate 
periphrasis for the wind. For his mother he has Laufey 
(leafy isle) or Nal, needle (t. e. the leaflet of the fir 2 ) ; for 
his brothers, Byleist, from bu, a habitation, and lesta, to 
lay waste ; or from bylr, storm, and sestr, raging ; and Hel- 
blindi 3 , which is also one of Odin s names. But Loki 
does also some good : it is he who has almost always to 
procure what is wanting ; he causes the implements and 
ornaments to be made for the gods, both by the sons of 
Ivaldi 4 , who work in wood, as well as by those who forge 4 . 
It is fire that sets all things in activity. Loki visits the 
metal king, Geirrod, who causes him to be confined and 
nearly starved : both types are in themselves sufficiently 
clear. Thiassi flies with Loki, who hangs fast by the pole 5 : 
this is evidently fire, which by the storm is borne through 
the air. Thiassi has been explained as identical with 
Thiarsi, from ]?iarr, violent, impetuous. His windy nature 
is manifest enough, partly as being the father of Skadi 6 , 
and partly from appearing in the form of an eagle, like 
Hrsesvelg 7 . It is the storm in the hollows of the moun 
tains that rushes out, and bears along with it the burn 
ing trunks of trees through the air. Snorri s Edda 8 gives 
two brothers to Thiassi, Idi (IJn, brightness, splendour) and 
Gang (Gangr, the gold diffused in the innermost recesses of 
the mountain). In the story of Sindri, who forges, and 
Brock, who stirs the fire, and afterwards closes up Loki s 

1 Ynglingas, 52. 

2 Trees with acicular leaflets, like the fir, cedar, yew and the like, are 
called needle-trees. 

3 Page 30. 4 Page 38. 5 Page 43. 
6 Page 45. Page 8. s Page 45. 


mouth 1 , Sindri denotes the smith, from sindr, the red 
hot sparks that spring from under the hammer. The name 
of Brock might also be explained, if we knew how they an 
ciently nourished and quelled the fire in their smithies. It 
has been interpreted, dry sedge from marshy places, but 
was this in use ? By closing up Loki s mouth is signified, 
that he quenched the fire. In the name of the band Var- 
tari, there is evidently a play on the word vor, lip ; the 
other part, tari, is not intelligible. From the whole con- 
text, however, it would seem that the allusion is to a fitting 
mode of preserving fire, of quelling it, when becoming too 
fierce, and finally, when the forging is over, of quenching 
it. When Loki came into the abyss he became particu 
larly evil (kyndugr) 2 . This word (from at kynda, to kindle, 
Lat. candeo, cendo, Sansk. cand (tsjand), and hugr, mind) 
is an excellent example of the transition of physical ideas 
to moral. He is represented as a cow and as a woman, 
both emblems of bringing forth ; and he there gave birth 
to his terrific offspring. The gods were at length com 
pelled to confine him. He abides as a salmon in Fran- 
augur s fors 3 (from frann, glistening}. With this may be 
compared the Finnish myth, according to which, fire pro 
duced by the gods falls in little balls into the sea, is swal 
lowed by a salmon, and afterwards found in the captured 
fish 4 . The glistening appearance of a salmon, its red flesh 
and quick motion, might easily induce the ancients to say 
there was fire in it. Loki assumed that shape to be as 
effectually hidden from the gods as possible, and appeared 
in fire s most innocent form ; but they were too well ac 
quainted with his guile. His son Vali, or Ali (the strong), 
was by the gods transformed into a wolf, and tore his 
brother Nari or Narvi (the binding) ; and Loki was bound 
with his bowels. Skadi hung a serpent above his head 5 . 

40. 2 Hyndlulj. Str. 38. 3 Page 77. 

4 Grimm, D. M. p. 577, note. 5 p ages 31 


Eitr, as we have already seen, was the most intense cold ; 
the serpent, consequently, is the cold stream that flows 
from the mountains into the deep. The name of Loki s 
wife, Sigyn, is plainly from at siga (A. S. sigan), to sink, 
fall, glide down, consequently a water-course. It is said 
that Loki lies under Hvera-lund ! (the wood or forest of 
hot-springs), and that his wife, Sigyn, sits " not right 
glad " with him 2 . Sigyn denotes the warm subterranean 
springs, which receive the cold stream that comes from 
Skadi * ; but when the warm springs, swollen with the 
mountain-streams, rush violently down upon the fire, then 
the earth trembles. In Saxo 3 we find traces of this myth, 
though, according to him, it is Utgarda-Loki that lies 
bound in a cavern. Angurboda, the mother of Loki s 
children, denotes the boder of sorrow (from angur, sorrow). 
Fenrir (the inhabitant of the abyss or deep), or Fenris- 
ulf (the howling wolf of the deep), is another form of the 
subterranean fire the volcanic. The bands by which he 
is bound (LseSing, Dromi, Gleipnir) 4 have allusion to 
strength and pliability. The holm or islet of Lyngvi, 
which is overgrown with ling or heath, and surrounded 
by the black lake Amsvartnir, is the fire-spouting moun 
tain 5 . The river Van, or Von, is the ascending smoke. 
In a Skaldic poem cited by Finn Magnusen 6 , several names 
occur belonging to this place, among others, Vil and Von, 
two rivers flowing from the mouth of the wolf (signifying, 
howl, lament, and vapour), whose lips are named Giolnar 
(from giola, a gust of wind), consequently the craters of a 
volcano. Two rivers, Vid (Vr<$) and Van are named in 
the Grimnismal 7 , evidently in allusion to vapour and 
clouds. The World s Serpent (MrSgarSsormr), or the 

1 Voluspa, Str. 39. Compare Lokaglepsa, Str. 51. 

2 Page 78. 3 Pages 431, 433. 
4 Pages 50, 51. 5 Page 51. 

6 Lex. Mythol. p. 340. ^ Str. 28. 


Terrestrial Serpent, or Wolf (Jormungandr), is the deep 
ocean. That it is excited by subterranean fire, and thereby 
becomes baneful, is quite intelligible ; but it is by a bold 
transition that the ancients made fire (Loki) the father of 
Hel or Death, with whom there is only cold. The domi 
nion, however, over cold she did not obtain until the gods 
sent her to Ninheim l . On the way to her abode lay the 
dog Garni 2 , which bays before Gnipa-hellir 3 , a being that 
both in name and signification (from gerr, voracious) an 
swers to Cerberus 4 . This dog seems to have guarded the 
descent to Hel through the earth ; as those taking the 
way by the Giallar-bru met with the maiden Modgud 5 , of 
whom more when we speak of Baldur. 

Baldur the good, with the light or bright brows, is, as 
almost all have admitted, the warm summer, the season of 
activity, joy and light. On his life depend the activity 
and joy of the gods ; his death brings sorrow to all, to 
gods and men, and to all nature. One being only, the 
evil Loki, the terrestrial fire, loses nothing by Baldur s 
death, and is, therefore, represented as the cause of it, and 
as hindering Baldur s release from Hel 6 . Baldur, the 
light, is slain by the darkness, Hod"; the bale-fires blaze 
at his death ; he journeys to Hel, and there is no hope of 
his return. His mother, the fruitful earth, mourns, and 
all beings shed tears, all nature is filled with weeping, like 
the days of autumn. Darkness prevails almost as much 
by day as by night ; but the earth stiffens, and Rind brings 
forth a son, the powerful Vali 6 , so that darkness is again 
dispelled by pure, clear days. Baldur s wife, Nanna, is 
the busy activity of summer, its unwearied, light occupa- 

1 Page 50. 2 Page 78. 

3 Page 81. Lex. Mythol. p. 398 ; Voluspa, Str. 49 ; Grimnism. Str. 44 ; 
Vegtamskv. Str. 6, 7. 

4 Lex. Mythol. p. 111. 5 Page 75. 
6 Page 76. " Page 74. 


tions 1 . Their son, Forseti (the fore-sitter, president, in 
the assembly), holds spring, summer, and autumn meet 
ings (guilds), as the maintainer of justice 2 . War, the 
principal employment of summer, was reserved for Odin 
himself, as the highest god. 

ILLUSTRATION. Baldur is referred to the Lith. baltas, 
white , Slav, bel or biel ; bielbog, the white, or bright god. 
Beauty and goodness are the fundamental ideas contained 
in the name. Baldur s abode is Breidablik 3 (the broad 
glance). The clear, white light is also indicated by the 
plant sacred to him, Baldur s bra 4 . Nanna, the name of 
Baldur s wife, has received various interpretations, among 
which the least improbable is, perhaps, to derive it from 
atnenna, to have a mind, feel inclined ; both nenna and the 
adjective nenninn, signify a sedulous worker, one indefa- 
tigably active ; hence Nanna would denote the active, 
summer life. Very appropriately, therefore, is the name of 
Nonna applied to Idun 5 , and that Odin s active maidens, 
the Valkyriur, are called nonnur herjans 6 (maidens of 
Odin). Nanna s father is named Nef or Nep, but by 
Saxo 7 he is called Gevar (Gefr); one of these must be 

1 There is much, as Keyset remarks, to object to in this interpretation 
of the myth of Baldur, but more particularly the circumstance of Baldur 
continuing with llel until the dissolution of the world, while Summer re 
turns annually. The whole story of Baldur and of his bright abode 
Breidablik, where nothing impure enters, points him out as the god of 
innocence. His name signifies the strong, and alludes to mental strength 
combined with spotless innocence. The blind Hod will then represent 
bodily strength with its blind earthly strivings, who, instigated by sin 
Loki unconsciously destroys innocence, and with it die both the desire 
and activity for good Nanna. The homicide is avenged by quick-waking 
reflection ; Hod is slain by Vali : but pure innocence has vanished from 
this world to return no more, though all nature bewails its loss. Only 
in the regenerated world will it again predominate. Relig. Forfatn. 
pp. 45, 46. 

2 Page 30. 3 Page 23. 

4 Page 22, note 2 . 5 Hrafnag. Oftins, Str. 8. 

6 Vbluspa, Str. 24. 7 Pages 82, 111. 


erroneous. Nef has not been interpreted, but Gefr is 
simply giver ; the father gives, and the daughter operates. 
Saxo relates how Gevar was treacherously burnt alive 
by night (nocturno igni) by his jarl (satrapa) Gunno, but 
that Hotherus (Hod) caused Gunno to be cast on a burn 
ing pile 1 ; an allusion possibly to the piles kindled at 
midsummer, or at the end of summer, wherein also lies a 
myth, viz. how the avocations of summer are interrupted 
by war (Gunno, gynni, signifying a warrior], which, in its 
turn, is at a stand during the dark winter. Hod (Hoftr, 
gen. Ha^ar) in many compounds, signifies (like the A. S. 
hea]?o) war, or battle 2 ; whence it would seem that the 
idea of war prevails where we might expect to find blind 
ness, or darkness the prominent one. The name of Vali 
is also of doubtful signification ; it may be a derivative of 
at vala, and the masculine of volva (vala) a prophetess, 
Scot, spae-wife, or it may signify the strong but, at all 
events, Vali is the new year, which begins with brighter 
days. In the old Swedish runic calendar, Yule-day is 
denoted by a child in swaddling clothes with a radiant 
crown, and the 25th of January, among the modern Nor 
wegians, by Paul the archer, or Paul with the bow (qu. 
Vali?). In the Danish runic calendars, the same day is 
noted by a sword, in the Norwegian by a bow, and in the 
Swedish by a sword and a bow, in remembrance of the 
arms of Vali 3 . Although Christian ideas may have been 
mixed up with the first-mentioned of these hieroglyphics, 
the pagan Vali seems, nevertheless, to be the fundamental 
one, who was only one day old when he slew Hod 4 , and 
had a bow for his attribute. The ancient Scandinavians 
admitted only two seasons, summer and winter. Neither 
spring nor autumn appear as distinct beings, but as transi- 

1 Page 131. 2 Grimm, D. M. p. 204. 

3 Specimen Cal. Gentil. ad calcem Lex. Mythol. pp. 1052, 1060. 

4 Page 76. 


tions ; Vali may, therefore, be regarded as the transition 
of the year to spring. The mistletoe shoots forth towards 
the end of June, flowers in May, and is green all the 
winter. The Romans were acquainted with it, and among 
the Gauls, the chief druid, on a certain day in spring, 
ascended the oak on which it grew, and cut it off with a 
golden knife ] , that it might not injure Baldur, or that the 
summer might come without hindrance : a proof of the 
wide-spread veneration for Baldur, and also a confirmation 
of the just interpretation of the myth. The giantess 
Thokt, whose form Loki assumed 2 , has been well illus 
trated by Finn Magnusen, by a saying still current in 
Iceland : " All things would weep (release by weeping) 
Baldur from Hel, except coal 3 ." The name of the giantess 
he explains by tecta, operta ; it will then be derived from 
at )?ekja, Lat. tego, to deck, cover, whence the adjective 
J?aktr, fern. }>6kt, Lat. tego, and signify the covered (fire). 
Coal knows no other tears than dry sparks ; it suffers no 
detriment from the death of summer, and has no joy in it. 
Hyrrokin, the whirling, smoking fire (from hyrr, fire, and 
roka, whirlwind), may have allusion to the manner in which 
they anciently eased the motion of their ships along the 
rollers. Litur (Litr) colour, whom Thor kicks into the 
fire, indicates the hue of the flaming fire which dies with 
the light 4 . The presence of all beings at the funeral pile 
of summer, in which all, more or less, had had pleasure, is 
perfectly intelligible ; nor is Thor (thunder) inactive on the 
occasion. The funeral is princely, according to the custom 
of the North. The watch at the Giallar-bru, Modgud, 
signifies the contentious, quarrelsome. The Giallar-bru is, 
from what has been said, opposed to the rainbow, and 
Modgud here, instead of Mimir, to Heimdall. Forseti, 

1 Plinii H. N. xvi, 95. 2 Page 76. 

3 Allir hlutir grata Balldur ur Helju, nema kol. Lex. Myth. p. 297. 

4 Page 75. 


as has already been observed, denotes a president; his 
abode is Glitnir (from at glita, to shine, glitter), the shining, 
glittering, and betokens the solemnity, sanctity and purity 
of justice 1 . 

BRAGI AND IDUN (!$UNN tyirSR) 2 . Bragi is a son of 
Odin and husband of Idun, the originator of poetry and 
eloquence, the most exquisite skald; hug-runes (mind- 
runes) are inscribed on his tongue ; he is celebrated for his 
gentleness, but more particularly for eloquence and wise 
utterance. After him poetry is called bragr; and after 
him men and women distinguished for wisdom of speech 
are called bragr-men or bragr- women. He is described as 
having an ample beard, whence persons with a similar ap 
pendage are called Skeggbragi (from skegg, beard). His 
wife, Idun, keeps in her casket the apples of which the 
gods bite when they are growing old; they then again 
become young, and so it will go on until Ragnarock. On 
hearing this relation of Har, Gangleri observed : " It is a 
very serious charge which the gods have committed to 
Idun s care ; " but Har answered, laughing at the same 
time, " It was once near upon bringing with it a great mis 
fortune 1 ." (In what it consisted is nowhere said.) For the 
story of her being carried off by Thiassi see page 44. In 
the Loka-glepsa 3 Bragi offers a horse and a sword to Loki, 
if he will desist from raising strife, who in return upbraids 
him with being, of all the J^sir and Alfar present, the 
most fearful in battle and the greatest avoider of shot. 
Idun beseeches her husband to keep peace with Loki, and 
declares that she will utter no contemptuous words to him, 
but will only appease her husband, who is somewhat heated 
by drink. But Loki, who appears very regardless of her 
gentleness, tells her that she is the most wanton of women, 

1 Gylf. 26. Brynh. Qvitfa, i. 17. Skaldskap. 10. 

2 Connected with ift, activity ; iftinn, active. Keyser, p. 39 

3 Str. 12-18. 


since she threw her nicely washed arms around her bro 
ther s slayer. 

At guilds the Bragarfull, or Bragi-cup was drunk. A 
troll-wife told Hedin that he should pay for his contempt 
of her at the Bragi-cup 1 . It was the custom at the funeral 
feast of kings and jarls, that the heir should sit 
seat in front of the high seat, until the Bragarfull was 
brought in, that he should then rise to receive it, make . 
vow and drink the contents of the cup. He was then led 
to his father s high seat 2 . At an offering-guild the chief 
signed with the figure of Thor s hammer both the cup and 
the meat First was drunk Odin s cup, for victory and 
power to the king; then Niord a cup and Prey s, for a 
~ood year and peace; after which it was the custom with 
many to drink a Bragarfull 3 . The peculiarity of this cup 
was/that it was the cup of vows, that on drinking it a vow 
was made to perform some great and arduous deed, that 
might be made a subject for the song of the skald. 

From the foregoing Bragi s essence seems sufficiently 
manifest, that of Idun is involved in obscurity. < 
concerning her we have already seen (page 44), the other 
is contained in Odin s Ravens Song, where she is repre 
sented as having sunk down from Yggdrasil s ash to the 
lower world. Odin then sends her a wolf s guise, and 
despatches Heimdall, accompanied by Bragi and Lopt, to 
ascertain from her what she had been able to discover 
respecting the duration and destruction of the nether 
world and of heaven; when, instead of answering she 
bursts forth into tears, etc. The whole is wrapt in dense 
obscurity, and all that can be gathered seems to be, 
she is the goddess that presides over the fresh young 
verdure, and herein to be compared with Proserpine, the 
blooming daughter of Ceres. She dwells in well-watered 
Helga-Qvi Sa Hading. Str. 29, 30. 2 Ynglingas. 40. 

Hakonars. go Sa, c. 16. Full signifies cup. 


fields (Brunnakr), and keeps in a casket the apples which 
preserve the gods in eternal youth. When the green 
vegetation vanishes from the earth, she falls, through 
Loki, as it is mythically expressed, into the power of Thi- 
assi, but by whom she is again liberated in the spring. 
Or she sinks down from Yggdrasil, and dwells mute and 
weeping in the nether world 1 ." 

Saga is the goddess of history and narration. Her name 
is from at saga, segja, to narrate, that of her abode, Sock- 
qvabek 2 (from sokk, sokkvi, abyss, gulf-, at sokkva, to sink, 
swallow), in allusion to the abundant and flowing stream 
of narrative. Sockqvabek signifies literally the sinking, 

As king of mind, Odin procured for mankind the drink 
of poesy 3 . The story on this subject has not reached us 
in its most ancient form. It describes in the usual peri 
phrastic manner of Antiquity, the preparation of the in 
spiring beverage, must, mead, or beer, which, as long as 
it belongs to dwarfs and giants, is still earthly, only with 
Odin does it become inspiring. As god of war, he ope 
rates in summer, and then seeks his reward ; but the gift 
of poesy is not easily acquired : Gunnlod long withstands 
his embraces ; but having partaken of the drink, he rises 
with an eagle s flight on the wings of inspiration. 

ILLUSTRATION. The difficulty of this myth lies chiefly 
in the beginning ; though it is sufficiently obvious that it 
relates to the preparation of the drink 4 . Kvasir is pro 
duced from the saliva of the ^Esir and Vanir. The Vanir, 
the spirits of air and water, supplied the watery part, the 
jEsir the inspiring. This also appears from the story of 
Geirhild, to whom, when brewing, Odin gave his saliva 
for barm, and the beer proved of the most excellent kind 5 . 
Kvasir then is fruit, and his blood must or wort. He died 

1 Miiller, Altdeutsche Religion, p. 281. 2 Page 34. 3 Page 41. 
4 See Lex. Mythol. p. 542. 6 H /Q fs Saga> cap L 


in his own wisdom, and in himself was vapid. The dwarfs 
that slew him and squeezed out his blood, would conse 
quently he those who stood at the must-press. Fialar s 
drink sweetened with honey is then the poetic drink, must. 
But the myth does not end here ; it passes on to the pre 
paration of a species of beer, for which it must be assumed 
that must was also employed. The name Gilling may be 
referred to at gilja, to separate, and in Norse, gil is the 
vessel into which the beer passes 1 . He enters a boat or 
vessel, which is upset in the great ocean, or brewers vat ; 
here the barm is meant ; and the wife who is crushed by 
the millstone, when she is going to look at the sea where 
her husband was drowned, is the malt, or something 
similar, that is ground. All this would probably be evi 
dent, if only we knew how the ancients prepared their 
mungat 2 , whether it was a sort of beer mixed with must 
and honey. Suttung (probably for Suptung) seems akin 
to the English sup, an allusion to the drinking tendency 
of the giant race ; while his daughter, Gunnlod, represents 
the beverage itself. Her name is compounded of gunnr 
(A. S. guth) war, and laSa, to invite-, therefore that which 
invites to war or battle the liquor which also inspires the 
skald to overcome all obstacles in his art. The vessel 
Odhrserir (that which moves the mind) expresses the effects 
of the drink. The same may possibly be the case with the 
two others, Bodn (invitation) and Son (redemption, or 
reconciliation). Odin now comes forth as Bolverk (from 
bol, calamity, hardship, bale, and virka, to work), one who 
performs deeds of hardship. When he causes the reapers 
to kill one another with their sithcs, he represents the god 
of war; when he enters the service of Baugi, he resembles 
the reaper who, when the labours of summer are over, is 
rewarded with song. The giant Baugi signifies the bowed, 

1 Hallager, sub voce. 

2 A sort of beer ; cerevisia secundaria. Biorn Haldorsen, sub voce. 


but why Bolverk enters his service cannot be explained. 
The auger or borer, Rati, is derived from at rata, to find 
the way. Hnitbiorg signifies a group of close, impenetrable 
mountains. This myth, though not wholly devoid of 
beauty, is, in the form in which it appears in the Prose 
Edda, as insipid as most of the far-fetched periphrases of 
the old Northern poetry. It has more than once, in later 
times, served as the subject of comic fiction. 

Vidar 1 is the son of Odin and of the giantess Grid, who 
dwells in a mountain-cave, and guards the descent to the 
giant-chieftain s abode in the interior of the mountain 2 . 
The name of his habitation, Landvidi (the wide, boundless 
land), marks him for lord of the thick, impervious woods, 
which, through Odin s power, rear their summits on the 
huge inaccessible mountains, where axe never sounded, 
where man s footsteps never trod, where human voice was 
never heard. Rightly, therefore, is he named the Silent. 
Vidar is the imperishability of nature, her incorruptible 
power. Who has ever wandered, or even imagined him 
self a wanderer, through such forests, in a length of many 
miles, in a boundless expanse, without a path, without a 
goal, amid their monstrous shadows, their sacred gloom, 
without being filled with deep reverence for the sublime 
greatness of nature above all human agency, without feel 
ing the grandeur of the idea which forms the basis of Vi- 

1 Finn Magnusen rejects the story of Vidar s shoe made of shreds of 
leather (p. 29) as a nursery tale. For the same reason he might, I fear, 
have rejected a vast deal more. Keyser derives his name from at vinna, 
to conquer, in allusion to his victory in the last conflict with the gods 
(p. 82), and thinks he may be an emblem of the regenerative power which 
is supposed to be in the earth. Therefore is he a son of Odin and a 
giantess, of spirit and matter ; therefore is his habitation Landvifti, the 
wide earth ; therefore is he the silent, inactive god in the world s present 
state. Not until its destruction does he come forth in his strength, 
overcoming the powers of darkness and destruction, and finally dwells 
in the regenerated world. Relig. Forfatn. pp. 39, 40. 

2 Pages 29, 53. 


dar s essence ? This great nature was familiar to Antiquity, 
which dwelt, as it were, in her lap; and we must feel 
veneration for the ancients, who neglected not to conceive 
and ennoble the idea of her infinite creative power, even 
without any view to man. The blooming fields they glori 
fied in Fulla, the whole cultivated earth in Frigg, the 
grass-grown mountain in Sif l ; the boundless woods must 
also have their divinity. Around the dwellings of men 
Erey and his elves hold sway. He is mild and beneficent, 
he loves the earth and its swelling seed ; but Vidar is silent 
and still ; after Thor he is the strongest ; he moves not 
among men, he is rarely named among the gods, but he 
survives the destruction of the world, of the gods, and of 
mankind. With Earth Odin begat Thor; with Frigg, 
Baldur ; with Rind, Vali ; but with a giantess, Vidar, the 
connection between the eternal creative power of matter 
and spirit. These gods and these men shall pass away, 
but neither the creative power in nature, Vidar, nor in 
man, Hoenir, shall ever have an end. 

ILLUSTRATION. The name of Vidar is formed from 
vrSr, a wood, forest. His abode, Landvidi, is thus de 
scribed : 

Begrown with branches 

and with high grass 

is Vidar s dwelling 2 . 

His leathern or iron shoe has been already described 3 , and 
in the Sagas leather is mentioned as a protection against 
fire. Hence we find him unscathed presenting the drink 
ing-horn to Loki at Oegir s banquet 4 ; nor does the wolf 
Fenrir harm him, but he seizes it and rends its jaws 
asunder 5 . All this pronounces him lord of the iron wood. 
According to Finn Magnusen s interpretation of this 
myth, Vidar is neither more nor less than the phenomenon 

1 Pages 31, 34, 35. 2 Grimnism. Str. 17. 

3 Page 29. 4 Loka-glepsa, Str. 10. 5 Pages 79, 82. 


typhon, or the water-spout. That this illustration has 
not met with general approval, will occasion but little sur 
prise. Geijer considers it an excellent example of the lucus 
a non lucendo 1 , while Rask approved of it as the best he 
had seen. But Vidar is not one-footed like the water 
spout, nor is it easy to imagine the latter an inhabitant of 
Landvidi, "begrown with branches and with high grass." 
In general, as well as in this instance, I have merely en 
deavoured to represent, as clearly as I could, what I be 
lieved to have found in the Eddas, without any wish to 
give greater weight to my own opinions than to those of 
others, or than they deserved. 

When the ^Esir had entered into a league with the 
Vanir 2 , or gods of the air, and received them into their 
community 3 , fertility and abundance prevailed over the 
earth. Father Niord is the universal nourishing power 
in air and water 4 ; he rules over the wind and the sea, at 
least over that portion of it which is nearest to and encir 
cles the earth, and, consequently, over navigation and 
fishing. As god of the ocean and the wind he appears 
very manifestly in his marriage with Skadi 5 , who would 
dwell in the mountains of Thrymheim. This myth re 
quires no elaborate explanation, as every one will readily 
perceive that it represents the alternations of the mild sea- 
breezes and the rough gales from the mountains. 

ILLUSTRATION. The origin of the word Niorflr is un 
certain; it has been referred to the verb at nsera (to 

1 Svearikes Hafder, i. 348. 

2 According to some the myth of the war between the jEsir and Vanir 
signifies that the light of heaven broke through the dense clouds that 
originally enveloped the earth, in order to produce fertility, which is sup 
posed to be an effect of the combined powers of heaven and the cloudy 
atmosphere. Others interpret it as a contest between the fire-worshipers 
and the water-worshipers, which was ended by the blending of the two 
religions. Keyser, Relig. Forfatn. pp. 35, 36. 

3 Page 14. 4 Page 24. * Page 45. 



nourish). He is supposed to be identical with the Ger 
man goddess Nerthus, the Gothic form of which, Nairjms 1 , 
may be either masculine or feminine 2 . Niord s habitation 
is Noatun, the place of ships, i. e. the sea, from nor, nos 
(vafc, navis) ship, and tun, an enclosed place, house and 
land. SkaSi signifies the hurtful. Her habitation, Thrym- 
heim, is from )?rymr, noise, uproar, and bears allusion to 
the stormy winds. 

Far more conspicuous than Niord are his children, Frey 
and Freyia 4 , who spread the fructifying power of the air 
over the earth, and bring abundance around and into the 
dwellings of men. Frey gives fruitfulness to the earth, 
Freyia to human beings. Frey rules over the Light-elves, 
and their united influence brings good years and prosperity. 
In the most spirited of the Eddaic poems, SkirmYs Jour 
ney 5 , is described Frey s longing to impart his blessings 
to the earth. Earth, with the seed deposited in it, as 
Gerd, resists his embraces. His messenger, Skirnir, who 
impels the seed forth into the light, vainly promises her 
the harvest s golden fruit, and a ring dripping with abun 
dance. From her giant nature, not yet quickened by the 
divine spirit, she has no idea of the benefits that will 
accrue to her through Frey s love; Skirnir must impress 
on her mind how, without Frey s embraces, she will to all 
eternity be the bride of the frost-giant Hrimnir, and never 
feel the joys of conception. She yields herself up to Frey, 
and they embrace when the buds burst in the woods. 

Freyia s abode is Folkvang; she has her dwelling amid 
the habitations of people, and fills them with abundance. 
Her hall is Sessrymnir, the roomy-seated. But her mflu- 
i The identity of the names seems unquestionable; but how is the ac 
count here given of Niord as the universal nourishing power in air and 
water" and "as god of the ocean and the wind," etc. to be reconciled 
with what Tacitus says of Nerthus: Nerthum. id est Terram matrem, 

, D. M. p. 197. 3 Page 25 . < Page 32. Page 46. 


ence is also pernicious ; seeing that as many fall through 
the frantic power of love as before the sword of the god of 
war. Her chariot is drawn by cats, an emblem of fond 
ness and passion. She longs constantly after Od, the 
intoxicating pleasure of love, and by him has a daughter, 
Hnos, the highest enjoyment. Her tears and ornaments 
are of gold ; for she is beautiful and fascinating even in her 
grief. She travels far and wide, and assumes many names 
and forms among the children of men *, as various as are 
her operations on their minds : for one is the sacred joy of 
marriage, whose fruit is a numerous offspring ; for another, 
only the impure pleasure of the senses. 

The nature of Frey and Freyia seems quite compre 
hensible, if we confine ourselves to the accounts in the 
Eddas, and not mingle with them the ideas of other na 
tions. As god of the year, Frey presides over sunshine 
and rain, without which no seed would germinate. Frey 
and Freyia denote, in the Scandinavian and kindred 
tongues, Master and Mistress. Frey is particularly repre 
sented as lord of men; and Snorri remarks that from 
Freyia high-born women are called freyior (frur), Dan. 
Fruer; Ger. Frauen. The word freyr (the feminine of 
which is freya) denotes either the fructifying, or the mild, 
joyous , Ger. froh. Both these interpretations spring from 
a common root, which is to be found in many tongues, 
having reference to earthly fertility, enjoyment, joy, etc. ; 
comp. Lat. fruor, frumentum. 

Frey obtained dominion over the Light-elves in the be 
ginning of time, i. e. of the year (i ardogum). Skirnir 
(from skirr, pure, clear) is the clarifier, that which brings the 
pure, clear air. Gerd (GerSr) is from gera, to do, make, as 
in akrgerS, agriculture. As she dwells in the mansion of 
Gymir, the allusion may possibly be to the word garS, en 
closure, court, garth. When represented as Frigg s rival, 

1 Pages 32, sqq. 


the allusion is perhaps to the earth prepared by the 
plough; but when, in Skirnir s journey, she is described 
as a beautiful girl, with bright, shining arms, the image 
is without doubt borrowed from the seed, the bright, yel 
low corn, so beneficial to man. She is of giant race, of 
earth, and as yet dead, but, nevertheless, fair and fertile. 
Her resemblance to Ceres is evident : Geres, quod gent 
fruges 1 ; O. Nor. gera, ger$i; Lat. gero, gessi. Barn, or 
Barey, is the wood or isle of germs or buds, from bar, bud, 
the eye in a tree, the winged seed. When the god of fruit- 
fulness embraces the seed, it shoots forth; and that takes 
place with the aid of Skirnir. Gerd s father, Gymir 
(Geymir), denotes one who keeps, lays by. Her mother s 
name, Aurboda, alludes to the material, earthly substance 
that is not yet developed. Prey parted with his sword. 
This seems to indicate that he lost his fertilizing power : 
he gave it to Skirnir, but whether the latter retained it, 
or what became of it, does not appear from the myth. He 
does not require it in his combat with Beli 2 . The myth 
respecting Beli is not complete, and, therefore, obscure. 
It may, however, be noticed that the interpreters take him 
for Gerd s brother, of whom she says, that she is fearful 
Skirnir will be her brother s destroyer 3 . We may here 
also observe, that in the Lokaglepsa 4 two attendants are 
attributed to Frey, Beyggvir and his wife Beyla. Of 
Beyggvir Loki says, that he is a little, pert being that is 
always hanging at the ear of Frey, and makes a rattling 
under or by the hand-mill ; that he can never distribute 
meat to men, and that he hid himself in the bed-straw 
when men contended. Of Beyla he says, that she is full 
of evil, and that an uglier monster never came among the 
^sir/nor a dirtier slut. Professor Petersen considers it 
evident that by Beyggvir the refuse of the mill, as chaff, 
i Varro de L. L. v. 64. 2 Pages, 49, 79, 81. 

3 Skirnis-for, Str. 16 and page 47. Str. 44 


etc. is signified, and that Beyla is the manure which soft- 
ens and develops the seed that is put in the earth. 
Professor F. Magnusen supposes Beyggvir and his wife to 
be two little parhelia attendant upon Frey, the solar di 
vinity. Frey s ship, Skidbladnir 1 , belonged according to 
some to Odin, or, in general, to all the gods 2 . Frey ob 
tained it in days of old (i ardogum), , . e . in the early part 
of the year, when navigation commences. His hog Gul- 
Imbursti, gold-bristled, is probably an emblem of the 
earth s fertility. With the ship of Frey is no doubt con 
nected the custom, formerly prevailing in some parts of 
Germany, of carrying about a ship and a plough, in the 
beginning of spring*; both the one and the other with 
reference to Frey, as the god of agriculture and prosperity. 
Freyia is the chief of the Valkyriur, and like them a 
chooser of the slain 4 . 

OEGIR AND RAN. As Niord is the mild sea of the 
coast, so is Oegir the wild, raging, more distant ocean, 
which is, nevertheless, in contact with the agency of the 
^Esir; hence the double nature of Oegir; he is a giant, 
and yet has friendly intercourse with the JEsir. In Mi- 
mir, Oegir and Niord we thus have the entire ocean from 
its origin to its last development, where like a benevolent 
divinity it attaches itself to the ^Esir, that is, to men 
Oegir and Hler are usually considered as one and the same 
deity 5 . Oegir visits the JEsir in Asgard, where Bragi re 
lates to him those narratives in Snom s Edda, which are 
called BragarseSur, or discourses of Bragi 6 . The ^Esir re 
turned his visit, on which occasion they remark that his 

1 Page 39. Grimnism. Str. 43. 2 Ynglingas c 7 

3 Grimm, D. M. p. 242. 4 p"* gf" 7 

" Forniot had three sons; one was named H1&, whom we call (Erir 

rornald - S6s - " " 

Snorra-Edda, p. 79. 


brewing kettle is not large enough, and Thor accompanied 
by Ty fetches, as we have seen, a more capacious one from 
the giant Hymir 1 . After Baldur s death the ^Esir visit 
him a second time, when Loki comes and vents all his 
spleen on them. Here we learn that he has two serving- 
men, Fimafeng (Funafeng) and Eldir; that bright gold 
was used in his hall instead of fire, and that Oegir himself 
handed the beer round 2 . Oegir s, or Han s, or their 
daughters fire is a skaldic periphrasis for gold 3 . 

ILLUSTRATION. The whole myth is simple and intelli 
gible. Oegir is the stormy ocean, from oga, to dread, shud 
der at. His wife s name, Ran, signifies plunder, robbery. 
It is a common expression in the North that the ocean 
brews and boils, which serves to illustrate Oegir s kettles ; 
the frothy drink also bears itself round, and there is plenty 
of it. Equally common is the idea of the ocean s surge, 
which in its most violent motion becomes phosphorescent. 
Seafaring men have much to relate of the shining of the 
sea, which is ascribed to insects. Oegir s servants are, 
therefore, good stokers. Eldir is from ellda, to make a fire, 
and Fimafeng is the rapid, agile. (Funafengr is probably 
from funi, fire). His daughters names, as we have already 
remarked, denote waves 4 . With Oegir is associated an idea 
of the terrific ; hence the Oegishialmr belonging to Faf- 
nir, at which all living beings were terrified 5 . 

The attributes of Heimdall, as far as they are not de 
scriptive of the vigilant guardian, are derived from the 
rainbow. He is a Van, because the rainbow appears in 
the sky. He is, at the same time, Odin s son, as being 
superhuman. His mothers, the nine giantesses, are the 
aqueous, earthy, and, on account of their brightness, the 
metallic parts of which the rainbow was thought to con- 

1 Hymiskv. Str. 1, sqq. and page 67. 2 Lokaglepsa, Introd. 

3 Skaldskap. 33. 4 Page 27. 5 Page 97, note 2 . 


sist. Here there is no allusion to the number of the co 
lours of the rainbow, which are given as three, but to their 
appearance. He is called Golden-tooth, because of the 
beauty of the rainbow, and Descending (HallinskerSi), 
because of its curved figure 1 . 

ILLUSTRATION. HeimJ?allr is derived from heimr, the 
world, and )?allr or dallr, a tree which sends forth shoots 
and branches. This word is the same with ]?ollr, a long 
pole , the name HeimJ>allr will therefore signify the pole 
or post of the world. The rainbow also, when incomplete, 
is still by the Northern nations called a Veirstolpe (Veir- 
stotte), literally a weather-post; and the Slavonic word 
for the rainbow, duga, signifies strictly the stave of a cask*. 
The ancients must therefore have had in view the rain 
bow s rarely perfect figure ; but when it appeared in its 
full beauty, like a broad bridge, it is easy to conceive why 
they called it Bifrost, or the trembling, swinging way, lead 
ing from earth to heaven 3 . Its curved figure gave occasion 
also for regarding it as a horn, one end of which was at 
Gioll (the horizon), the other at Himinbiorg (the heavenly 
mountains, i. e. the clouds), whence Heimdall raised his 
Giallar-horn, as it is said, 

Early up Bifrost 
ran Ulfran s son, 
the mighty horn-blower 
of Himinbiorg 4 . 

By nine, the number of HeimdalPs mothers, nothing 
more seems implied than its well-known sanctity among 
almost all the people of antiquity. The number of Oegir s 
daughters is also nine 5 . Heimdall descended among man- 

1 Page 29. 2 Grimm, D. M. p. 695. 

3 It was believed that at the place where the rainbow rises, a golden 
dish or a treasure was hidden, and that gold money falls from the rainbow. 

4 Hrafnag. 0)>ms, str. 26. p age 27. 



kind under the name of Rig 1 , whence the whole human 
race are called children of Heimdall 2 . In the contest be 
tween Heimdall and Loki for the Brisinga-men 3 , the idea 
seems to lie that fire and the rainbow vie with each other 
in displaying the most beautiful colours. 

From the foregoing attempt to illustrate the mythology 
of the Scandinavian nations, it appears that their gods were 
neither more nor less than figurative representations of the 
agency of nature and mankind. Nothing is there without 
signification, yet there is nothing that lies without the 
pale of our forefathers experience, or that is incompatible 
with the manner in which Antiquity was wont to conceive 
it. Heaven and earth are the two great leading ideas 
which comprise the others ; between both are sea and air. 
Thunder and the rainbow are the two most prominent na 
tural phenomena, which first and most impressively must 
excite the attention of mankind. The Northman was en 
compassed with bare ice-mountains, nearer to him were 
high hills and boundless forests ; but immediately around 
his dwelling was the fertile field. Plenty and contentment 
at home, and the bloody game of war abroad, were his 

1 Rigsmal. This forms the subject of the Eddaic poem Rigsmal. Heim 
dall, one of the ^Esir, wanders in green ways along the sea-strand. He 
calls himself Rig (Rigr) ; he is strong, active and honourable. In a hut he 
finds a great-grandfather and a great-grandmother (ai and edda), with 
whom he stays three nights. Nine months after, the old woman gives 
birth to the swarthy thrall, from whom the race of thralls descends. Rig 
wanders further and finds in a house a grandfather and a grandmother 
(afi and amma). Nine months after, the grandmother gives birth to a 
boy, the progenitor of the peasant race. Rig proceeds still further, and 
finds in a hall a father and mother, and nine months after, the mother 
brings forth Jarl (earl). Jarl marries Erna, a daughter of Hersir (baron), 
and the youngest of their sons is the young Konr (Konr ungr, contr. 
konungr, king). The last-mentioned are objects of Rig s especial care; he 
is solicitous not only with regard to their birth, but for their instruction 
and culture, thus affording a striking example of the aristocratic spirit 
that prevailed in the North from the remotest period. 

2 Voluspa, Str. 1. 3 Page 2 9. 


earthly desires. What wonder then, if he imagined all 
around him to be animated by divine beings, which he 
represented with all the sagacity he possessed ? But this 
conception of physical images was not without application 
to his intellectual and moral nature. This connection was 
so close, that it is inseparable even in language, and every 
where we meet with proofs that Antiquity also raised it 
self to this higher conception. Odin is not only lord over 
the whole physical world, but is king also of the intellec 
tual. Heimdall is not only the rainbow, but is, at the 
same time, the benignant announcer of the divine care. 
Thor is not only the thunder, but also courage and strength. 
Vidar is not only lord of the boundless forests, but is in 
corruptibility itself. Baldur is not alone the god of sum 
mer, but is also all goodness and piety. Ty is not only 
war, but is also honour and glory. Frey and Freyia are 
not alone givers of fruitfulness, but, at the same time, the 
germinating, blooming and beatifying, the boundless love 
in the breast of man. Nor is Loki the god of fire alone, 
but is also the origin of all evil and the father of lies. 
Hence proceeds the multitude of names and epithets 
(always significant, though we may not always be able to 
explain them) that are applied to the gods ; they express 
their natures from different points of view, and describe 
their characters. Loki, for instance, is active, shrewd of 
speech, cunning, inventive, sagacious, false, wicked ; Baldur 
is white (bright), good-, Heimdall holy, white; Thor is 
large, strong, not remarkably clever, but good-natured with 
all his strength, etc. etc. In describing Odin, the old, ve 
nerable, long-bearded, one-eyed being, in all his might, wis 
dom, goodness, austerity and ferocity ; in all his manifes 
tations in heaven and on earth, the Old Norse language 
employed all its riches, a far greater store than can now be 
furnished from the combined stores of its descendants. 


A people that raised their thoughts to beings higher than 
heaven and earth, must naturally, at the same time, be 
lieve in the cessation of that heaven and earth. Before 
the gods existed there were higher powers, from whose 
breath all creation drew life. These could annihilate their 
own work, though its nobler part might not pass away, 
which is as imperishable as themselves. To these ideas 
leads also the consideration of nature herself. The cir 
cumvolution on a small scale is repeated on a larger ; the 
darkness of night and the light of day are a reduced repe 
tition of the interchange of winter and summer, and both 
amplified are prefigurations of the destruction and renewal 
of all nature. This time or age is brought forth like every 
other, and must, therefore, like every other, pass away; 
but as the year is renewed, in like manner shall time also 
be renewed. In the myth of Baldur s death with its con 
clusion, the birth of Vali, the idea of Ragnarock is so evi 
dent, that the one cannot well be conceived without draw 
ing with it the presence of the other. The death of 
summer is a presage of the downfall of the gods, which 
begins with the great, severe winter (fimbul-vetr) . All 
nature is described as agitated by the storms of autumn, 
snow drifts, frost prevails, fire struggles in its bonds, and 
the earth is filled with conflict. The powers of darkness 
unite with the super-celestial spirits, and fire and water 
desolate the world. The sun and moon were also created, 
and they shall be swallowed by the pursuing wolves. 
But a new earth shoots forth, a new human race appears, 
a new sun beams in the heaven. Of the moon there is 
no more mention, for there will be no more night. The 
noblest of the gods return to their pristine innocence and 
joy. The nature that had until then prevailed is perished 
with Odin, but Vidar and Vali live, imperishable nature 
survives and blooms like the ever-youthful year. Baldur 
and Hod live peaceably together, there is no longer strife 


between summer and winter, light and darkness. Thor 
no more thunders, but his strength and courage pervade 
nature as Modi and Magni. Freyia with her sensual plea 
sure is no more, but Hoenir, the unperishing sensitive 
faculty, continues to operate in the new human race. 
Earth s former creatures live now in heaven. As indivi 
dual heroes could be renewed and regenerated here on 
earth, so were chosen bands of warriors assembled in Va!- 
hall, for the purpose of continuing, while the earthly age 
lasted, the best of earthly occupations; but even in life 
there was something higher than warfare peace; battle 
itself shall, therefore, cease with the great battle of na 
ture, and all the gods be assembled in Gimli, the abode of 
peace and innocence. Over this a new heaven will be 
spread, where the benignant and protecting elves will 
watch over mankind as of old in earthly life. Even dwarfs 
and giants shall all live in peace. The Mighty One shall 
come from above and sit in judgement; there shall be an 
eternal separation between good and evil, which had pre 
viously been confounded. An everlasting reward shall 
await the good, everlasting torment the evil. Beyond this 
no eye may see. 

ILLUSTRATION. Ragnarock, the darkness or twilight of 
the gods (from regin, gen. pi. ragna, deus, potestas, and 
rockr, twilight, darkness) . That wolves pursued and would 
swallow up the sun and moon, is a general figure to ex 
press the eclipse of the heavenly bodies. The solar wolf 
has also been explained to be a parhelion 1 . Egdir, the 
eagle, and Fialar, and the other two cocks 2 , do not strictly 
belong to Ragnarock, but to the previous state of the 
world. What they signify is extremely obscure, or, rather, 
unknown. Who the two brothers are, whose sons shall 
inhabit Vindheim 3 , is quite uncertain : some suppose them 
to be Thor and Baldur. Gimli is the clear, bright heaven ; 
1 Lex. Mythol. p. 414, note. 2 Page 78. 3 Page 83. 


Vidblain and Andlang, the spacious blue heaven, the 
boundless aether; Okolnir, the warm (lit. the uncold). Cold 
had hitherto been the lot of the giants, but now they also 
shall share in the warmth ; to this also the name Brimir 
alludes, from brimi, fire. Nastrond is from na, a corpse, 
therefore the strand of corpses. Slid (SlrSr) signifies the 
sluggish or pernicious ; Nidhogg, the serpent of darkness, 
or envy. The idea of all nature awaiting a deliverance 
from the existing state of things, and a renewal or exalta 
tion of its blunted powers, is deeply impressed on the 
human mind; it is also Oriental, but manifests itself 
among several nations under various forms, though essen 
tially the same. 




As belonging to the province of Northern mythology, 
it has been deemed desirable to add an account of the 
celebrated Grottasavngr, or Mill-song l , which is to be 
found in every MS. of Ssemund s Edda, except the parch 
ment one in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. 

King Frodi (Fro]?i) paid a visit to King Fiolnir in 
Sweden, and there bought two female slaves, called Fenia 
and Menia, who were both large and strong. At that time 
there were found in Denmark two millstones so large that 
no one was able to drag them. These millstones had the 
property that they produced whatever the grinder wished 
for. The mill was called Grotti. Hengikiaptr (hanging 
jaw) was the name of him who gave the mill to Frodi. 
King Frodi caused the slaves to be led to the millstones, 
and ordered them to grind gold, and peace, and prosperity 
to Frodi, giving them no longer rest or sleep than while 
the cuckoo was silent or a song might be sung. It is said 
that they then sung the song called Grottasavngr, and 
before they left off, that they ground an army against 
Frodi; so that in the same night there came a sea-king 
called Mysing, who slew Frodi, and took great spoil. My- 
sing took with him the mill Grotti, together with Fenia 
and Menia, and ordered them to grind salt. At midnight 
they asked Mysing whether he had salt enough ? He 
bade them go on grinding. They had ground but a little 
1 Skaldskap. p. 146. 


more when the ship sank. There was afterwards a whirl 
pool in the ocean,, where the water falls into the eye of the 
millstone, and thence the sea became salt. 

Professor Petersen 1 considers the myth to signify the 
cultivation of the land during peace, and the prosperity 
consequent thereupon, that prosperity begets desire, and 
desire war. The grinding of salt is a later adoption, as in 
the latter part of the song it is said that one of the stones 
had been split asunder in grinding for Frodi. 


Three great festivals were celebrated every year in the 
time of heathenism, when sacrifices were made to the 
gods. The first was held at the new year, which was 
reckoned from the mother-night/ so called because the 
new year sprang, as it were, out of her lap. The month, 
which began then with the first new moon, was called 
Yule-month (Jule-tungel), and, from the sacrifice, Thora- 
blot 3 , which was then chiefly celebrated. This season, even 
to the present day, is called Thorsmanad. Kings and jarls, 
not only in Sweden, but also in Denmark and Norway, 
held at this time their great sacrificial meetings or guilds. 
Rich land-holders then made ready their Yule-beer for 
friends and kindred ; but the poorer, who had no wealthy 
relatives, assembled in feastings, to which they all con 
tributed, and drank hop-6l (social beer). On these occa 
sions offerings were made to the gods for a prosperous 
year, both to Odin for success in war, and to Frey for a 
good harvest. Animals of various kinds were slaughtered, 
but the principal victim was a hog, which was especially 

1 Nordisk Mythologie, p. 221. 2 Afzelius, i. 15. 

3 So called, it is supposed, from Thorri, an ancient king or deity of the 
Fins and Lapps, of the race of Forniot, and blot, sacrifice. See Snorra- 
Edda, ed. Rask, p. 358. 


sacred to Frey, because the swine is supposed to have first 
taught mankind to plough the earth. This was led forth 
well fattened and adorned ; and it was a custom to make 
vows over the sacred hog, and pledge themselves to some 
great enterprise, to be achieved before the next Yule- 
meeting (Jula-mot). Feastings, bodily exercises, and Yule- 
games occupied the whole of this month, whence it was 
denominated skamte-manad (the merry month). 

Midwinter sacrifice was the second grand festival, and 
took place on the first new moon after Yule-month, to 
the honour of Goa or Goa. This goddess was believed to 
preside over the fertility of the earth, and to be a daughter 
of Thor. Hence in many places, when thunder is heard, 
the people still say, Goa is passing. After her the month 
of February is called Goje-manad. At a later period this 
sacrifice acquired the appellation of Disa-blot, when the 
celebrated Queen Disa, whose memory is still preserved in 
the traditions of the Swedish people, had not only partaken 
in, but almost superseded, the worship of Frigg and Goa 
at this festival. The story of Queen Disa is usually related 
as follows : 

When King Frey, or, according to other accounts, a 
King Sigtrud, far back in the times of heathenism, ruled 
in the North, the population, during a long peace, had so 
greatly increased, that one year, on the coming of winter, 
the crops of the preceding autumn were already consumed. 
The king therefore summoned all the commonalty to an 
assembly, for the purpose of finding a remedy for the im 
pending evil, when it was decreed, that all the old, the 
sickly, the deformed, and the idle should be slain and 
offered to Odin. When one of the king s councillors, 
named Siustin, returned from the assembly to his dwelling 
in Uppland, his daughter, Disa, inquired of him what had 
there taken place ; and as she was in all respects wise and 
judicious, he recounted to her what had been resolved on. 


On hearing it she said she could have given better counsel, 
and wondered that among so many men there was found 
so little wisdom. These words reached at length the ears 
of the king, who was angry at her boldness and conceit, 
and declared he would soon put her to her wit s end. He 
promised to take her to his counsel, but on condition that 
she should come to him not on foot nor on horseback, not 
driving nor sailing, not clad nor unclad, not in a year nor 
a month, not by day nor by night, not in the moon s in 
crease nor wane. Disa, in her perplexity at this order, 
prayed to the goddess Frigg for counsel, and then went 
to the king in the following manner. She harnessed two 
young men to a sledge, by the side of which she caused 
a goat to be led ; she held one leg in the sledge and placed 
the other on the goat, and was herself clad in a net. Thus 
she came to the king neither walking nor riding, nor 
driving, nor sailing, neither clad nor unclad. She came 
neither in a current year nor month, but on the third day 
before Yule, one of the days of the solstice, which were not 
reckoned as belonging to the year itself, but as a comple 
ment, and in like manner might be said not to belong to 
any month. She came neither in the increase nor in the 
wane, but just at the full moon ; neither by day nor by 
night, but in the twilight. The king wondered at such 
sagacity, ordered her to be brought before him, and found 
so great delight in her conversation, beauty and under 
standing, that he made her his queen. Following her ad 
vice, he then divided the people into two portions, one of 
which, according to lot, he furnished with arms, hunting 
gear, and as much seed-corn as would suffice for one 
sowing, and sent them to the uninhabited regions of the 
north, there to establish a colony and cultivate the land. 
Much other good counsel this queen gave for the benefit 
of the country, for which she was loved and honoured both 
by king and people ; and so highly was she prized for her 


wisdom, that many difficult disputes were referred to her 
judgement at the midwinter sacrifice, which soon acquired 
the name of Disa-blot, and Disa-ting, of which the great 
winter fair at Upsala is a memorial. 

The above saga has been variously interpreted. Ac 
cording to some, Disa will represent to the king the im 
portance and necessity of agriculture ; she herself, neither 
clad nor unclad, represents the earth in early spring, when, 
grass here and there is beginning to shoot forth, but does 
not yet deck the fields with green ; the trees begin with 
their swelling buds to show signs of foliage, but still lack 
their beauteous, leafy summer clothing. Then it is not 
good to travel, neither in a carriage nor a sledge ; then is 
it best for the husbandman to watch the season, to be ob 
servant of the changes and influences of the sun and moon, 
of the weather, of old signs and tokens, a knowledge of 
which is a useful heritage from his forefathers experience. 

The third great yearly festival was held at the begin- 
ning of spring, for prosperity and victory by land and sea, 
though more especially for the naval expeditions or vi- 
kingafarder/ in which almost every free-born, warlike 
man now prepared to participate. At this festival Odin 
was chiefly invoked. 

According to a superstition derived from the time of 
heathenism, the quicken-tree or mountain-ash 2 possesses 
great occult virtues. A staff of it is believed to be a pre 
servative against sorcery. In ancient times the people 
made a part of their ships of it, supposing it to be good 
against the storms raised by Ran. The superstition ori 
ginated in the aid it afforded to Thor 3 . 

1 Afzelius, i. 21. 

2 The Sorbus aucuparia, the Rowan of the Scottish Highlanders 

3 Mythol. p. 53. 



Spacious and magnificent temples, in honour of the 
gods, were erected in many parts of the Scandinavian 
countries, besides which there were stone-groups or altars 
for sacrificial purposes. Such a pagan altar was called a 
horg, whence the priestesses attending it were denominated 
horgabrudar. By every horg or temple there was a sacred 
grove, or a solitary tree, on which the offerings were sus 
pended. Such trees were supposed to possess great virtue 
in the cure of diseases. Hence it is that even now some 
trees are regarded with a superstitious veneration, parti 
cularly the lime, and those in which elf -holes/ or open 
ings formed by two branches that have grown together, 
are found. These are often cut down for superstitious 
purposes. Women, who have difficult labours, are drawn 
through them, and have thereby not unfrequently lost 
their lives ; and superstitious persons may be often seen 
carrying sickly children to a forest, for the purpose of 
dragging them through such holes. 

By every sacred grove there was a well or fountain, in 
which the offerings were washed. 


Besides the regular priests, the Northern nations had 
also their wise men and women, or soothsayers. The 
principal kinds of witchcraft were seid (serSr) and galder 
(galdr) ; though there seems also to have been a third 
species, as the prophetesses (volur), prophets (vitkar), and 
seid-workers (serS-berendr) are distinguished from each 
other, and spring from different origins 3 . Galder is a de 
rivation of at gala, to sing 4 , and consisted in producing 

1 Afzelius, i. 18, 20. 

2 From Petersen, Danmarks Historic and Keyser, Relig. Forfatn. 

3 Hyndlulj. Str. 32. 4 Like our enchant. 


supernatural effects by means of certain songs, or by cut 
ting certain runes. This in itself may not have been cri 
minal, as there was also a species called meingaldr (from 
mem, harm, etc.), by which something evil was brought 
forth. Groa sang over the stone that was lodged in Thorns 
forehead 1 , Oddrun over Borgny when the latter could not 
bring forth 2 . A particular kind of galder was valgalder, 
by which the dead were waked and made to converse, that 
the will of fate might be known from their mouth. This 
is ascribed to Odin, who sat under one hanged and com 
pelled him to speak, or went down to the nether world, 
waked the dead Vala, and made her prophesy 3 . We also 
find that Hardgrepe cut songs on wood, and caused them 
to be laid under a corpse s tongue, which compelled it to 
rise and sing 4 . Hild by her song waked Hogni and He- 
din s fallen warriors, that they might continually renew 
the combat 5 . As examples of such songs may be men 
tioned that by which Hervor woke Angantyr, and the so- 
called Busla s prayer and Serpa s verse 6 . 

Seid, according to some, consisted in a kind of boiling 
(from at sioiSa, to boil] ; although in the original authori 
ties there is nothing that evidently alludes to that pro 
cess 7 . The ^Esir learned it from Freyia 8 ; it was regarded 
as unseemly for men, and was usually practised by women 
only: we nevertheless meet with seid-men. Both seid 
and galder were practised by Odin himself. The seid- 
woman occupied an elevated seat with four pillars. All 
changes in nature, such as quenching fire, stilling the sea, 
turning the wind, waking the dead, seem to have been 
mostly effected by galder ; while by means of seid the fate 

1 Mythol. p. 71. 2 Oddr. Gratr, Str. 6. 

3 Ynglingas. c. 7, and Mythol. pp. 16, 72. 

4 Saxo, p. 38, edit. Miiller. 5 Ib. p. 242. 

6 Saga HerrautJs ok Bosa, cap. 5. 7 See Grimm, D. M. p. 988. 

8 Ynglingas. c. 4. 


of individuals was ascertained and control over futurity 
acquired ; by seid death, misfortune and disease could be 
caused to others, intellect and strength taken from one 
and given to another, storms raised, etc. etc. On account 
of its wickedness, it was held unworthy of a man to prac 
tise seid, and the seid-man was prosecuted and burned as 
an atrocious trollman. The seid- women received money 
to make men hard, so that iron could not wound them 1 . 

The most remarkable class of seid-women were the so- 
called Valas, or Volvas. We find them present at the birth 
of children, when they seem to represent the Norns. They 
acquired their knowledge either by means of seid, during 
the night, while all others in the house were sleeping, and 
uttered their oracles in the morning; or they received 
sudden inspirations during the singing of certain songs 
appropriated to the purpose, without which the sorcery 
could not perfectly succeed. These seid-women are com 
mon over all the North. They were invited by the master 
of a family, and appeared in a peculiar costume, sometimes 
with a considerable number of followers, e. g. with fifteen 
young men and fifteen girls. For their soothsaying they 
received money, gold rings and other precious things. 
Sometimes it was necessary to compel them to prophesy. 
An old description of such a Vala, who went from guild to 
guild telling fortunes, will give the best idea of these 
women and their proceedings : 

Thorbiorg during the winter attended the guilds, at 
the invitation of those who desired to know their fate or 
the quality of the coming year. Everything was prepared 
in the most sumptuous manner for her reception. There 
was an elevated seat, on which lay a cushion stuffed with 
feathers. A man was sent to meet her. She came in the 
evening, dressed in a blue mantle fastened with thongs, 

1 Ynglingas. c. 4, 7, 17. Hrdlfss. Kraka, c. 3, 48, 51. Frfoftjofss. c. 5. 
Orvaroddss. c. 19. Gaungu-Hrolfss. c. 28. Sogubrot af Fornkon. c. 4. 


and set with stones down to the lap ; round her neck she 
had a necklace of glass beads, on her head a hood of black 
lambskin lined with white catskin; in her hand a staff, 
the head of which was mounted with brass and orna 
mented with stones ; round her body she wore a girdle of 
dry wood (knoske), from which hung a bag containing her 
conjuring apparatus; on her feet were rough calfskin 
shoes with long ties and tin buttons ; on her hands cat- 
skin gloves, white and hairy within. All bade her wel 
come with a reverent salutation ; the master himself con 
ducted her by the hand to her seat. She undertook no 
prophecy on the first day, but would first pass a night 
there. In the evening of the following day she ascended 
her elevated seat, caused the women to place themselves 
round her, and desired them to sing certain songs, which 
they did in a strong, clear voice. She then prophesied of 
the coming year, and afterwards all that would advanced 
and asked her such questions as they thought proper, to 
which they received plain answers 1 . 

Besides galder and seid, there were no doubt other 
kinds of sorcery. It was believed, for instance, that the 
Fins in particular possessed the art of raising storms and 
of deceiving the sight of their enemies, so that the stones 
they cast in their way appeared to them as lofty moun 
tains, and a snowball as a great river. These arts may 
therefore be regarded as more ancient than the ^Esir-lore. 
The Danish sea-commander, Odde, could without a ship 
traverse the ocean, by magic spells raise a storm against 
his enemies, and so deceive their eyesight, that the swords 
of the Danes appeared to them as emitting rays and glit 
tering as if on fire. Gudrun so beguiled the vision of 
Jarmerik s warriors that they turned their weapons against 
each other. Others, like Gunholm and Hildiger, could 
by magic songs blunt the edge of swords. The trollman 

1 Ut supra; Nornagestss. 11 ; Orvaroftss. 2 ; Saga Thorfinns Karlsefnis. 


and the witch could, like Harthgrebe, assume various 
forms, make themselves little or big, ugly or handsome ; 
also invest themselves with the likeness of a whale or 
other animal, as the trollman sent by Harald Blatand 
to Iceland, and the troll-wife who, in order to kill King 
Frodi, transformed herself to a sea-cow, and her sons to 
calves. With viands prepared from snakes or serpents a 
person procured strength, wisdom and success in war for 
any favourite individual. By oblivious potions and phil 
ters lovers were made to forget their old love and contract 
a new one. That which Grimhild gave to Gudrun con 
sisted of a strong drink, ice-cold water and blood: and 
with this drink were mingled many potent (evil) things, 
as the juice of all kinds of trees, acorns, soot, entrails of 
victims, and boiled swine s liver, which has the virtue of 
extinguishing hatred. In the horn containing it runes 
were sculptured 1 . 

Trollmen, it was believed, could derive much aid from 
certain animals : thus the art of interpreting the voice of 
birds is spoken of as a source of great discoveries. The 
crow was in this respect a bird of considerable importance, 
and that such was also the case with the raven is evident 
from Odin s Hugin and Munin. The cat is also men 
tioned as a special favourite among trollmen. The skilful 
Icelandic magician, Thorolf Skegge, is said to have had 
no less than twenty large black cats, that valiantly de 
fended their master when attacked, and gave eighteen 
men enough to do 2 . 

Of the hamhlaup/ or power of assuming various 
forms, we have an example in Odin himself, who could 
change his appearance (hamr), and as a bird, a fish or 

1 Saxo, p. 249, 192, 414, 179, 37, 256 ; Snorri, Saga Olafs Tryggv. c. 37. 
Goftrunar Harmr, 21-23. 

2 Ragn. LoSbr. Saga. 8 ; Vols. S. 19 ; Snorri, Olaf Kyr. Saga, 9 ; Vatnsd. 
Saga, 28. 


other animal transport himself to distant lands l ; also in 
the falcon-plumage (valshamr, fiaj?rhamr) of the goddesses, 
which they could lend to others, and in the swan-plumage 
of the Valkyriur 2 . It was likewise believed that men 
could by magic be changed to the form of wolves, which 
they could lay aside only at certain times. Of some it 
was believed that by putting on a magical hat or hood 
(dularkufl, hulrSshjalmr), they could render themselves 
invisible to, or not to be recognised by, others 3 ; or by 
certain arts alter the whole aspect of the surrounding 
country. Of all this many instances occur in the Sagas. 
The witch Liot would change the aspect of the country in 
the sight of others, by placing one foot over her head, 
walking backwards, and protruding her head between her 
legs ; but the process failed, as they saw her before she 
saw them. Svan, when desirous of concealing another, 
wrapped a goatskin round his head, and said : " There 
will be fog, and bugbears, and great wonders for all who 
seek after thee 4 ." A man became freskr/ i. e. capable of 
seeing the concealed trollman by looking under another s 
arm placed a-kimbo on the left side 5 . Even to the glance 
or look of the eye an extraordinary effect was ascribed, 
sometimes harmless, as Svanhild s when the horses were 
about to trample on her, or as Sigurd s, whose sharp 
glance held the most savage dogs at bay 6 ; sometimes 
pernicious. The effect of either might be neutralized by 
drawing a bag over the head, by which process the troll 
man lost his power. It is told of one, that he saw through 

1 Ynglingas. c. 7. 2 Mythol. pp. 54, 85. 

3 This was effected by a kind of powder resembling ashes, which the 
operator sprinkled over and around the person it was intended to con 
ceal. Snorri, Har. Harf. Saga, 31 ; Olaf Helg. Saga, 143. 

4 Vatnsda3las, c. 26; Njala, c. 27, etc. 

5 Orvarodds, c. 29. Mythol. p. 166. 

6 Vblsungas. c. 29 ; Olafss. Tryggvas. c. 208. Mythol. p. 18. 



a hole in the bag, and with a glance destroyed a whole 
field of grass l . Hence the common saying of one having 
an evil eye. Troll-wives and noxious demons (uvsettir) are 
described, as Hyrrockin, riding on wolves with snakes or 
serpents for a rein 2 . Such ridings generally took place 
by night, and the heroes pursued and slew these beings of 
the dark 3 . In an old narrative of such a ride the circum 
stance appears that the troll rode on a staff 4 ; but of as 
semblies of witches on mountains, as on the Blakulla in 
Sweden, Troms in Norway, Hekla in Iceland, the Blocks- 
berg in the north of Germany, of which we read so much in 
the legends of the middle age, we find absolutely nothing : 
this superstition must have arisen at or after the introduc- 
tion of Christianity. 

A peculiar kind of magic was that called sitting out * 
(utiseta, at sitja uti), which consisted in sitting out at 
night, and by certain magical proceedings, which are no 
longer known, though oftenest with galder/ summoning 
forth trolls, or raising the dead, for the purpose of interro 
gating them 5 . 

In the more fabulous Sagas mention occurs of a variety 
of superstitions, such as of a wooden image endowed with 
life, by means of < galder/ and sent to Iceland, by which 
Thorleif Jarlaskiald was slain; the raising of charmed 
weather, by shaking a weather-bag (veSrbelgr), from which 
storms proceeded; the belief that certain men every ninth 
night became women ; that a man, by a kind of grass placed 
under a woman s head, might excite her love; that persons 
could by magic be fixed to the spot where they stood, 
without the power of stirring from it ; that there are 
mantles, woven by elves, whereby women s fidelity and 
maidens chastity may be tested, etc. etc. Some of these 

i Laxdffilas. c. 37, 38. 2 Mythol. p. 75. 

a Helgakv. Hadingask. Str. 146. 4 Saga Thorsteins Baearra. c. 2. 

* Ynglingas. 7 , Hak. Herfiabr.S. 18. 


superstitions may have prevailed in the North, though 
many of them are no doubt mere later fictions. 

Garments also could be charmed, either for the protection 
of the wearer, or to cause injury or death. Of the chief 
tain Thorir Hund it is said, that he caused several frocks 
of reindeer skin to be made by the Fins, that were so 
charmed that no weapon could cut or pierce them ; and 
in the battle of Stiklastad one of these frocks protected 
him against the sword of St. Olaf, when that king struck 
him across the shoulders. Harald Hakonson, jarl of the 
Orkneys, died, we are told, in consequence of a charmed 
garment, that had been wrought by his own mother and 
her sister, but intended for his half-brother, Pal Jarl. 
Swords were sometimes so enchanted, that success in battle 
attended those that bore them, and the wounds made by 
them could be healed only by being spread over with 
life-stone (lifsteinn). That such swords might have 
their full effect, much was to be attended to : the famous 
sword Skofnung, for instance, that was taken from Hrolf 
Kraki s sepulchral mound, might not be drawn in the 
presence of women, or so that the sun shone on the hilt, 
otherwise it lost somewhat of its virtue 1 . 

The most efficient and solemn mode of wishing evil to 
"another was that called ( m% (enmity), which consisted 
in setting up a nith-stake (at reisa nrS). The process is 
thus described by Saxo, who relates how such a nr5-stake 
was raised against Eric the Eloquent : The head of a horse, 
that had been sacrificed to the gods, was set on a stake, the 
jaws being held distended by wooden pins. And this is 
confirmed by the Sagas. When Egil Skallagrimsson would 
ni$a King Eric Blodoxe and Queen Gunnhild in Nor 
way, he took a hazel-stake, ascended a mountain-peak that 

1 Snorri, 01. Hel. Saga, 204, 240 ; Orkney. S. p. 144. Laxd. S. 57, 58 ; 
Korm. S. 9. Keyser, p. 141. 



looked towards the interior of the country, and set a horse s 
head on the stake, while he uttered the following maledic 
tion : " Here raise I a nith-stake, and turn this nith 
against King Eric and Queen Gunnhild at the same time 
turning the head towards the country. And I turn this 
nith against the land-vsettir that abide in this land, 
so that they may wander about, without finding house or 
habitation, until they shall have driven King Eric and 
Queen Gunnhild from the country V He then drove the 
stake fast down in a cleft of the mountain, and cut runes 
on it containing the same malediction l . In perfect accord 
ance with this is the law of Ulfliot 2 , that no one might 
sail towards the land with a yawning head at the stem, in 
order not to terrify the land-vsettir, or guardian deities. 
In other narratives we find that a human head of wood 
was set in the breast of the slaughtered horse. Another 
species of nith was performed with runes, which in some 
way or other must be conveyed to the enemy or his pro 
perty : for this purpose the operator cut runes on wood, 
smeared them with his blood, uttered galder over them, 
and walked round them against the sun, then cast them 
into the sea, with the wish that they might be drifted to 
the object against whom the nith was directed 3 . 

But as misfortune and lasting calamity could be caused 
to others by imprecations, so could one individual, by good 
wishes, impart to others good fortune and happiness ; and 
the belief was general, that the father s luck could con 
tinue to operate on the life of the son, and of generous, kind 
relatives on that of succeeding generations, and that, the 

1 Gunnhild had at a banquet caused a poisoned drink to be presented 
to Egil, who having cause for suspicion, scratched runes on the horn with 
his knife, wounded himself in the palm, and smeared the runes with blood, 
when the horn burst asunder and the liquor was spilt. Hence his enmity. 

2 The first lawgiver of Iceland. He lived in the 10th century. 
Saxo, p. 203 ; Egilss. c. 60 ; Vatnsdrclas. c. 31, 36, etc. 


king or a chieftain could communicate his good fortune to 
others. Thus it is related of Odin, that to render his men 
successful in battle, he laid his hands on them and blessed 
them ; of Olaf Tryggvason, that to Halfred and others he 
gave his good luck ; of Hoskuld Dalakolssen in Iceland, 
that just before his death he gave his son a ring together 
with his own and his kindred s good fortune ; and Svend 
Tveskiseg, who formed a commercial connection with Van- 
helds-Roe, communicated to him a share of his prosperity. 


To the Germans no Edda has been transmitted, nor has 
any writer of former times sought to collect the remains 
of German heathenism. On the contrary, the early writers 
of Germany having, in the Roman school, been alienated 
from all reminiscences of their paternal country, have 
striven, not to preserve, but to extirpate every trace of 
their ancient faith 2 . Much, therefore, of the old German 
mythology being thus irretrievably lost, I turn to the 
sources which remain, and which consist partly in written 
documents, partly in the never- stationary stream of living 
traditions and customs. The first, although they may 
reach far back, yet appear fragmentary and lacerated, 
while the existing popular tradition hangs on threads 
which finally connect it with Antiquity 3 . 

The principal sources of German mythology are, there 
fore, I. Popular narratives ; II. Superstitions and ancient 
customs, in which traces of heathen myths, religious ideas 
and forms of worship are to be found. 

1 It is to be observed that the word German is here used in its modern 
signification, to the exclusion of the Scandinavian nations ; when meaning 
to include the whole race, I have generally adopted the term Germanic. 

2 Grimm, D. M. Vorrede, p. vui. 3 Ib. p. x. 


Popular narratives branch into three classes : I. Heroic 
Traditions (Heldensagen) ; II. Popular Traditions (Volks- 
sagen); III. Popular Tales (Marchen). That they all 
in common though traceable only in Christian times 
have preserved much of heathenism, is confirmed by the 
circumstance, that in them many beings make their appear 
ance who incontestably belong to heathenism, viz. those 
subordinate beings the dwarfs, water-sprites, etc., who are 
wanting in no religion which, like the German, has de 
veloped conceptions of personal divinities 1 . 

The principal sources of German HEROIC TRADITION 
are a series of poems, which have been transmitted from 
the eighth, tenth, but chiefly from the twelfth down to the 
fifteenth century. These poems are founded, as has been 
satisfactorily proved, on popular songs, collected, arranged 
and formed into one whole, for the most part by professed 
singers. The heroes, who constitute the chief personages 
in the narrative, were probably once gods or heroes, whose 
deep-rooted myths have been transmitted through Chris 
tian times in an altered and obscured form. With the 
great German heroic tradition the story of Siegfried and 
the Nibelunge, this assumption is the more surely founded, 
as the story, even in heathen times, was spread abroad in 
Northern song 2 . 

If in the Heroic Traditions the mythic matter, particu 
larly that which forms the pith of the narrative, is fre 
quently concealed, in the POPULAR TRADITIONS (Volks- 
sagen) it is often more obvious. By the last-mentioned 
title we designate those narratives which, in great number 
and remarkable mutual accordance, are spread over all Ger 
many, and which tell of rocks, mountains, lakes and other 
prominent objects. The collecting of those still preserved 
among the common people has, since the publication of 
the ( Deutsche Sagen by the Brothers Grimm, made con- 
1 W. Muller, Altdeutsche Religion, p. 12. 2 Ib. 


siderable progress. Of such narratives many, it is true, 
belong not to our province, some being mere obscured 
historic reminiscences, others owing their origin to ety 
mologic interpretations, or even to sculpture and carvings, 
which the people have endeavoured to explain in their own 
fashion; while others have demonstrably sprung up in 
Christian times, or are the fruits of literature. Neverthe 
less, a considerable number remain, which descend from 
ancient times, and German mythology has still to hope 
for much emolument from the Popular Traditions, since 
those with which we are already acquainted offer a plenti 
ful harvest of mythic matter, without which our know 
ledge of German heathenism would be considerably more 
defective than it is 1 . 

The POPULAR TALE (Volksmarchen), which usually 
knows neither names of persons or places, nor times, con 
tains, as far as our object is concerned, chiefly myths that 
have been rent from their original connection and ex 
hibited in an altered fanciful form. Through lively ima 
gination, through the mingling together of originally 
unconnected narratives, through adaptation to the various 
times in which they have been reproduced and to the 
several tastes of listening youth, through transmission 
from one people to another, the mythic elements of the 
Popular Tales are so disguised and distorted, that their 
chief substance is, as far as mythology is concerned, to us 
almost unintelligible 2 . 

But Popular Traditions and Popular Tales are, after all, 
for the most part, but dependent sources, which can de 
rive any considerable value only by connection with more 
trustworthy narratives. A yet more dependent source is 
the SUPERSTITIONS still to be found in the country among 
the great mass of the people, a considerable portion of 
which has, in my opinion, no connection with German 
1 Miiller, p. 14. 2 j^ p< 15 

L 5 


mythology; although in recent times there is manifestly 
a disposition to regard every collection of popular super 
stitions, notions and usages as a contribution to it 1 . 

Among the superstitions are to be reckoned the charms 
or spells and forms of adjuration, which are to be uttered 
frequently, with particular ceremonies and usages, for the 
healing of a disease or the averting of a danger, and which 
are partly still preserved among the common people, and 
partly to be found in manuscripts 2 . They are for the most 
part in rime and rhythmical, and usually conclude with 
an invocation of God, Christ and the saints. Their begin 
ning is frequently epic, the middle contains the potent 
words for the object of the spell. That many of these 
forms descend from heathen times is evident from the 
circumstance that downright heathen beings are invoked 

in them 3 . 

Another source is open to us in GERMAN MANNERS 
AND CUSTOMS. As every people is wont to adhere tena 
ciously to its old customs, even when their object is no 
longer known, so has many a custom been preserved, or 
only recently fallen into desuetude, the origin of which 
dates from the time of heathenism, although its connec 
tion therewith may either be forgotten or so mixed up 
with Christian ideas as to be hardly recognisable. This 
observation is particularly applicable to the popular diver 
sions and processions, which take place at certain seasons 
in various parts of the country. These, though frequently 
falling on Christian festivals, yet stand in no necessary 
connection with them ; for which reason many may, no 

1 Muller, p. 16. 

2 Many such conjurations and spells are given by Grimm, D. M. 
pp. CXXVI-CLIX. 1st edit., and in Mone s Anzeiger, also in Altdeutsche 
Blatter, Bd. ii. etc. 

3 As Erce and Fasolt. See D. M. pp. cxxx-cxxxn. 1st edit. Muller, 

p. 21. 


doubt, be regarded as remnants of pagan usages and 
festivals. And that such is actually the case appears evi 
dent from the circumstance,, that some of these festivals,, 
e. g. the kindling of fires, were at the time of the conver 
sion forbidden as heathenish, and are also to be found in 
the heathenism of other nations. But we know not with 
what divinities these customs were connected,, nor in whose 
honour these festivals were instituted. Of some only may 
the original object and probable signification be divined; 
but for the most part they can be considered only in their 
detached and incoherent state. It may also be added, 
that Slavish and Keltic customs may have got mingled 
with the German 1 . 

1 Miiller, p. 22. Upon this subject Grimm (D. M. Vorrede, p. xxxn.) 
remarks : 

" Jewish and Christian doctrine began to insinuate itself into the heathen 
belief, heathen fancies and superstitions to press into, and, as it were, rake 
refuge in every place not occupied by the new faith. Christian matter 
sometimes appears disguised in a heathen form, and heathen matter in a 
Christian." See a striking instance of this in the old Thuringian pagan 
spell at p. 23. 

" As the goddess Ostara (Eastre) became changed into an idea of time, 
so was Hellia (Hel) into an idea of place. The belief of Antiquity in elves 
and giants became changed into that of angels and devils, but the old 
traditions remained. Woden, Thor, Ty, were invested with the nature of 
pernicious, diabolical beings, and the tradition of their solemn yearly pro 
cessions was changed into that of a wild, frantic troop, from which the 
people shrank with dread, as they had formerly rushed forth to share in it." 

"A circumstance yet more striking is, that to the Virgin Mary are 
transferred a number of pleasing traditions of Hold and Frouwa, the Norns 
and Valkyriur. How delightful are these stories of Mary, and what could 
any other poesy have to compare with them ! With the kindly heathen 
characteristics are associated for us a feeling of the higher sanctity which 
surrounds this woman. Flowers and plants are named after Mary, images 
of Mary are borne in procession and placed in the forest-trees, in exact 
conformity with the heathen worship; Mary is the divine mother, the 
spinner, and appears as a helpful virgin to all who invoke her. But Mary 
stands not alone. In the Greek and the Latin churches a numerous host 
of saints sprang up around her, occupying the place of the gods of the 
second and third classes, the heroes and wise women of heathenism, 


While the Scandinavian religion may, even as it has 
been transmitted to us, be regarded as a connected whole, 
the isolated fragments of German mythology can be con 
sidered only as the damaged ruins of a structure, for the 
restoration of which the plan is wholly wanting. But this 
plan we in great measure possess in the Northern My 
thology, seeing that many of these German ruins are in 
perfect accordance with it. Hence we may confidently 
conclude that the German religion, had it been handed 
down to us in equal integrity with the Northern, would, 
on the whole, have exhibited the same system, and may, 
therefore, have recourse to the latter, as the only means 
left us of assigning a place to each of its isolated frag 
ments 1 . 

Although the similitude of language and manners speaks 
forcibly in favour of a close resemblance between the Ger 
man and Northern mythologies, yet the assumption of a 
perfect identity of both religions is, on that account, by 
no means admissible ; seeing that the only original autho 
rities for German heathenism, the Merseburg poems 2 , in 
the little information supplied by them, show some re 
markable deviations from the religious system of the 
North 3 . 

The question here naturally presents itself, by what 
course of events did the Odinic worship become spread 

and filling the heart, because they mediate between it and a higher, severer 
Godhead. Among the saints also, both male and female, there were many 
classes, and the several cases in which they are helpful are distributed 

among them like offices and occupations For the hero who slew the 

dragon, Michael or George was substituted, and the heathen Siegberg was 
transferred over to Michael ; as in France out of Mons Martis a Mons 
martyrum (Montmartre) was formed. It is worthy of remark that the 
Osseten out of dies Martis (Mardi) make a George s day, and out of dies 
Veneris (Vendredi) a Mary s day. Instead of Odin and Freyia, at minne- 
drinking, St. John and St. Gertrud were substituted." 

* Miiller, p. 34. 2 See page 23. 3 Mtiller, p. 35. 


over the larger portion of Germany and the Netherlands ? 
By Paulus Diaconus (De Gestis Langobard. i. 8) we are 
informed that WODAN was worshiped as a god by all the 
Germanic nations. And Jonas of Bobbio (Vita S. Colum- 
bani, in Act. Bened. sec. 2. p. 26) makes mention of a 
vessel filled with beer, as an offering to Wodan, among 
the Suevi (Alamanni) on the Lake of Constance 1 . Hence 
it is reasonable to conclude that his worship prevailed 
especially among those tribes which, according to their 
own traditions and other historic notices, wandered from 
north to south 2 . Whether Wodan was regarded as a chief 
divinity by all the German tribes is uncertain, no traces 
of his worship existing among the Bavarians; and the 
name of the fourth day of the week after him being found 
chiefly in the north of Germany, but in no High German 
dialect 3 . 

The following is Snorri s account of Odin s course from 
the Tanais to his final settlement in Sweden : 

" The country to the east of the Tanais (Tanaqvisl) in 
Asia was called Asaheim ; but the chief city (borg) in the 
country was called Asgard. In this city there was a chief 
named Odin (Wodan), and there was a great place of 
sacrifice (offersted), etc. 4 

1 Sunt etenim inibi vicinse nationes Suevorum, quo cum moraretur et inter 
habitatores illius loci progrederetur, reperit eos sacrificium profanum litare 
velle, vasque magnum, quod vulgo cupam vocant, quod viginti et sex 
modios amplius minusve capiebat, cerevisia plenum, in medio habebant 
positum. Ad quod vir Dei accessit et sciscitatur quid de illo fieri vellent ? 
Illi aiunt : deo suo Wodano, quern Mercurium vocant alii, se velle litare. 

2 Grimm, D. M. p. 49. Miiller, pp. 80, 85. 

3 Miiller, p. 86. In the Westphalian dialect Wednesday is called 
Godenstag, Gaunstag, Gunstag ; in Nether Rhenish, Gudenstag ; in Middle- 
age Netherlandish or Dutch, Woensdach-, in New Netherl., Woensdag; in 
Flemish, Goensdag; in Old Frisic, Wernsdei; in New Fris., Wdnsdey; in 
Nor. Fris., Winsdei\ in Anglo-Sax., Wodenes- and Wodnesdag ; in Old 
Nor., O^insdagr. 

4 Ynglingasaga, c. 2. 


" At that time the Roman generals were marching over 
the world and reducing all nations to subjection; but 
Odin being foreknowing and possessed of magical skill, 
knew that his posterity should occupy the northern half 
of the world. He then set his brothers Ve and Vili over 
Asgard, but himself, with all the diar l and a vast multi 
tude of people, wandered forth, first westwards to Garda- 
riki 2 , and afterwards southwards to Saxland 3 . He had 
many sons ; and after having reduced under his subjection 
an extensive kingdom in Saxland, he placed his sons to de 
fend the country. He afterwards proceeded northwards 
to the sea, and took up his abode in an island which is 
called Odins-ey in Fyen 4 . But when Odin learned that 
there were good tracts of land to the east in Gym s king 
dom 5 , he proceeded thither, and Gylfi concluded a treaty 
with him .... Odin made his place of residence by the 
Malar lake, at the place now called Sigtuna. There he 
erected a vast temple 6 " 

The worship of THUNAER or DONAR, the Northern 
Thor, among the Germans appears certain only from the 
Low German formula of renunciation 7 and the name of 
the fifth day of the week 8 . 

1 The diar were the twelve chief priests. 

2 The Great and Little Russia of after-times. 

3 Strictly the Saxons land ; but by the Northern writers the name is 
applied to the whole of Germany, from the Alps in the south to the 
Rhine in the west. 

4 A singular inaccuracy, Odense (Oftins ey or rather Oftins ve) being 
the chief town of Fyen. 

5 See pp. 34, 132 note and 145 of this volume. 6 Ynglingas. cc. 5, 6. 

7 c forsacho allum dioboles uuercum and uuordum thunaer ende 
uuoden ende saxnote ende allem them unholdum the hira genotas sint. 
/ renounce all the works and words of the devil, Thunaer and Woden and 
Saxnot and all those fiends that are their associates. Massmann, Ab- 
schwbrungsformeln, No. 1. 

8 Ohg. Donares tac, Toniris tac ; Mhg. Donrestac ; Mill. Donresdach ; 
Nnl. Donderdag ; 0. Fris. Thunresdei, Tornsdei ; N. Fris. Tongersdei ; 
Nor. Fris. Tursdei; A. Sax. Thunres dag; 0. Nor. ^orsdagr. 


The god Zio, who is identical with the Northern Ty 
(Tyr), is nowhere directly named; but as he has given his 
name to the third day of the week, his right to a place in 
the list is established l . His name seems to be preserved 
in some local appellations in the south of Germany. 

BALDUR appears in the Merseburg poem under the name 
of PHOL 2 , 

The Frisic god FOSITE is, according to all probability, 
the Scandinavian Forseti 3 . Of him it is related that a 
temple was erected to him in Heligoland, which formerly 
bore the name of Fositesland. On the island there was 
a spring, from which no one might draw water except in 
silence. No one might touch any of the animals sacred 
to the god, that fed on the island, nor anything else found 
there. St. Wilibrord baptized three Frisians in the spring, 
and slaughtered three of the animals, for himself and his 
companions, but had nearly paid with his life for the pro 
fanation of the sanctuary, a crime which, according to the 
belief of the heathen, must be followed by madness or 
speedy death 4 . At a later period, as we are informed by 
Adam of Bremen, the island was regarded as sacred by 
pirates 5 . 

Besides the above-named five gods, mention also occurs 
of three goddesses, viz. FRIGG, the wife of Wodan, who is 
spoken of by Paulus Diaconus (i. 8) under the name of 
Frea 6 . In the Merseburg poem, where she is called Frua 
or Friia, she appears as a sister of VOLLA, the Northern 
Fulla 7 . The sixth day of the week is named either after 

1 Ohg. Cies dac, earlier perhaps Ziuwes tac, later Swab. Ziestac. (For 
other forms seeD. M. p. 113.) The modern German Dienstag is a cor 
ruption of Diestag. Mnl. Disendach ; Nnl. Dingsdach ; 0. Fris. Tysdei 
N. Fris. Tyesdey ; Nor. Fris. Tirsdei ; A. Sax. Tiwes dag; O. Nor. Tysdagr. 

2 See p. 23. 3 See p. 30. 

4 Alcuini Vita S. Wilibrordi cited by Grimm, D. M. p. 210. 

5 De Situ Danise, p. 132. Miiller, p. 88. 

6 See D. M. p. 276. 7 See pp. 23, 35. 


her or after the Northern goddess Freyia l , but who in 
Germany was probably called Frouwa ; and the goddess 
HLUDANA, whom Thorlacius identifies with Hlodyn 2 . 

Of the god SAXNOT nothing occurs beyond the mention 
of his name in the renunciation, which we have just seen. 
In the genealogy of the kings of Essex a Seaxneat appears 
as a son of Woden 3 . 

As the common ancestor of the German nation, Tacitus, 
on the authority of ancient poems 4 , places the hero or 
god Tuisco, who sprang from the earth; whose son 
Mannus had three sons, after whom are named the three 
tribes, viz. the Ingsevones, nearest to the ocean ; the Her- 
minones, in the middle parts ; and the Istsevones 5 . 

After all it is, perhaps, from the several prohibitions, 
contained in the decrees of councils or declared by the laws, 
that we derive the greater part of our knowledge of Ger 
man heathenism. Of these sources one of the most im 
NI ARUM, at the end of a Capitulary of Carloman (A.D. 743), 
contained in the Vatican MS. No. 577, which is a cata 
logue of the heathen practices that were forbidden at the 
council of Lestines (Liptinse), in the diocese of Cambrai 6 . 

1 The names of the sixth day of the week waver : Ohg. Fria dag, Frije 
tag ; Mhg. Fritac, Vriegtag ; Mill. Vridach ; 0. Fris. Frigendei, Fredei ; 
N. Fris. Fred-, A. Sax. Frige dag; 0. Nor. Friadagr, Freyjudagr; S\v. 
Dan. Fredag. 

2 Seepage 21. Muller, p. 88. 

3 Lappenberg s England by Thorpe, i. p. 288. Muller, p. 89. 

* Celebrant carminibus antiquis, quod unum apud illos memoriae et an- 
nalium genus est, Tuisconem deura terra editum, etc. 

5 Germania, c. 2. 

Although the Indiculus has been frequently printed, we venture to 
give it a place here, on account of its importance for German Mythology. 

I. De Sacrilegio ad Sepulchra Mortuorum. 
II. De Sacrilegio super Defunctos, id est Dadsisas. 
III. De Spurcalibus in Februario. 


In the manuscript this catalogue is preceded by the for 
mula of renunciation already given. 

From the popular traditions and tales of Germany a 
sufficiently clear idea of the nature of the giants and dwarfs 
of Teutonic fiction may be obtained. As in the Northern 
belief the giants inhabit the mountains, so does German 
tradition assign them dwellings in mountains and caverns. 
Isolated mounts, sand-hills or islands have been formed by 
the heaps of earth which giarit-niaidens have let fall out 
of their aprons when constructing a dam or a causeway ! . 

IV. De Casulis, id est Fanis. 
V. De Sacrilegiis per Ecclesias. 
VI. De Sacris Silvarum, quae Nimidas vocant. 
VII. De his quae faciunt super petras. 
VIII. De Sacris Mercurii vel Jovis (Wodan or Thor). 
IX. De Sacrificio quod fit alicui Sanctorum. 
X. De Phylacteriis et Ligaturis. 
XI. De Fontibus Sacrificiorum. 
XII. De Incantationibus. 

XIII. De Auguriis vel avium vel equorum, vel bovum stercore, vel 


XIV. De Divinis vel Sortilegis. 

XV. De Igne fricato de ligno, id est nodfyr. 
XVI. De Cerebro Animalium. 

XVII. De Observatione pagana in foco vel in inchoatione rei alicujus. 
XVIII. De Incertis Locis, quae colunt pro Sacris. 
XIX. De Petendo quod boni vocant Sanctae Mariae. 
XX. De Feriis, quae faciunt Jovi vel Mer curio. 
XXI. De Lunae defectione, quod dicurit Vinceluna. 
XXII. De Tempestatibus et Cornibus et Cocleis. 

XXIII. De Sulcis circa Villas. 

XXIV. De Pagano Cursu, quern Frias (Yrias, Grimm) nominant, scissis 

pannis vel calceis. 

XXV. De eo quod sibi sanctos fingunt quoslibet mortuos. 
XXVI. De Simulacro de consparsa farina. 
XXVII. De Simulacris de pannis factis. 
XXVIII. De Simulacro quod per campos portant. 
XXIX. De Ligneis Pedibus vel Manibus pagano ritu. 
XXX. De eo quod credunt, quia Feminas lunam commendent, quod 

possint corda hominum tollere juxta paganos. 
1 See vol. iii. p. 87. 


Scattered fragments of rock are from structures under 
taken by them in ancient times ; and of the huge masses 
of stone lying about the country, for the presence of which 
the common people cannot otherwise account, it is said 
that they were cast by giants, or that they had shaken 
them out of their shoes like grains of sand l . Impressions 
of their fingers or other members are frequently to be seen 
on such stones. Other traditions tell of giants that have 
been turned into stone, and certain rocks have received 
the appellation of giants clubs*. Moors and sloughs have 
been caused by the blood that sprang from a giant s wound, 
as from Ymir s 3 . 

In Germany, too, traces exist of the turbulent elements 
being considered as giants. A formula is preserved in 
which Fasolt is conjured to avert a storm; in another, 
Mermeut, who rules over the storm, is invoked 4 . Fasolt 
is the giant who figures so often in German middle-age 
poetry 5 ; he was the brother of Ecke, who was himself a 
divinity of floods and waves 6 . Of Mermeut nothing 
further is known. 

In the German popular tales the devil is frequently 
made to step into the place of the giants. Like them he 
has his abode in rocks 7 , hurls huge stones, in which the 
impression of his fingers or other members is often to be 
seen 8 , causes moors and swamps to come forth, or has his 

1 See vol. iii. p. 93. 

2 A rock near Bonn is called Fasolt s Keule (club). 

3 See page 4. 

4 Ich peut dir, Fasolt, dass du das wetter verfirst (wegfuhrest), mir und 
meinen nachpauren an schaden. D. M. p. cxxxii. 1st edit. MUller, p. 317, 


5 See the passages in which mention of him occurs in W. Grimm , 
Deutsche Heldensage. 

6 See Grimm, D. M. pp. 218, 602. MUller, pp. 310, 319. 

7 Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 125. 

s Ib. D. S. No. 191-198, 200-205 ; Wolf, Niederl. Sagen, No. 178, etc. 


habitation in them l , and raises the whirlwind 2 . Accord 
ing to a universal tradition, compacts are frequently made 
with the devil, by which he is bound to complete a building, 
as a church, a house, a barn, a causeway, a bridge or the 
like within a certain short period; but by some artifice, 
through which the soul of the person, for whom he is 
doing the work, is saved, the completion of the under 
taking is prevented. The cock, for instance, is made to 
crow; because, like the giants and dwarfs, who shun the 
light of the sun, the devil also loses his power at the break 
of day 3 . In being thus deceived and outwitted, he bears 
a striking resemblance to the giants, who, though possess 
ing prodigious strength, yet know not how to profit by it, 
and therefore in their conflicts with gods and heroes always 
prove the inferior 4 . 

While in the giant-traditions and tales of Germany a 
great degree of uniformity appears, the belief in dwarfs 
displays considerable vivacity and variety ; though no other 
branch of German popular story exhibits such a mixture 
with the ideas of the neighbouring Kelts and Slaves. This 
intermingling of German and foreign elements appears 
particularly striking on comparing the German and Keltic 
elf-stories, between which will be found a strong similitude, 

1 Grimm, D. S. No. 202; Harrys, i. No. 11. 

2 Stopke, or Stepke, is in Lower Saxony an appellation of the devil and 
of the whirlwind, from which proceed the fogs that pass over the land. 
The devil sits in the whirlwind and rushes howling and raging through 
the air. Mark. Sagen, p. 377. The whirlwind is also ascribed to witches. 
If a knife be cast into it, the witch will be wounded and become visible. 
Schreibers Taschenbuch, 1839, p. 323. Comp. Grimm, Abergl. 522, 554 ; 
Mones Anzeiger, 8, 278. See also vol. iii. p. 23. The spirits that raise 
storms and hail may be appeased by shaking out a flour-sack and saying : 
" Siehe da, Wind, koch ein Mus fur dein Kind !" (See there, Wind, boil a 
pap for thy child !) ; or by throwing a tablecloth out of the window. 
Grimm, Abergl. 282. Like the Wild Huntsman, the devil on Ash Wed 
nesday hunts the wood-wives. Ib. 469, 914. See vol. iii. p. 60, note 2 . 

3 See p. 8, note 3 . * Muller, p. 317. 


which is hardly to be explained by the assumption of an 
original resemblance independent of all intercommunica 
tion 1 . 

Tradition assigns to the dwarfs of Germany, as the 
Eddas to those of the North, the interior of the earth, 
particularly rocky caverns, for a dwelling. There they live 
together as a regular people, dig for ore, employ them 
selves in smith s work, and collect treasures. Their activity 
is of a peaceful, quiet character, whence they are distin 
guished as the still folk (the good people, the guid neigh 
bours] ; and because it is practised in secret, they are said 
to have a tarncap, or tarnmantle 2 , or mistmantle, by which 
they can make themselves invisible. For the same reason 
they are particularly active at night 3 . 

The dwarfs in general are, as we have seen, the personi 
fication of the hidden creative powers, on whose efficacy 
the regular changes in nature depend. This idea naturally 
suggests itself both from the names borne by the dwarfs 
in the Eddas 4 , and from the myths connected with them. 
These names denote for the most part either activity in 
general, or individual natural phenomena, as the phases of 
the moon, wind, etc. 5 

The activity of the dwarfs, which popular tradition 
symbolically signifies by smith s work, must be understood 
as elemental or cosmical. It applies particularly to the 
thriving of the fruits of the earth. We consequently fre 
quently find the dwarfs busied in helping men in their 
agricultural labours, in getting in the harvest, making 
hay and the like, w r hich is merely a debasement of the 
idea that, through their efficacy, they promote the growth 
and maturity of the fruits of the earth. Tradition seems 

1 Miiller, p. 327. 

2 From Old Saxon dernian, A. S. dyrnan, to conceal. With the dwarfs 
the sun rises at midnight. Grimm, D. M. p. 435. 

3 Muller, p. 335. 4 See page 151. 5 MUller, p. 332. 


to err in representing the dwarfs as thievish on such occa 
sions, as stealing the produce from the fields, or collecting 
the thrashed-out corn for themselves ; unless such stories 
are meant to signify that evil befalls men, if they offend 
those beneficent beings, and thereby cause them to sus 
pend their efficacy, or exert it to their prejudice 1 . 

The same elemental powers which operate on the fruits 
of the earth also exercise an influence on the well-being of 
living creatures. Well-known and wide-spread is the tra 
dition that the dwarfs have the power, by their touch, 
their breathing, and even by their look, to cause sickness 
or death to man and beast. That which they cause when 
they are offended they must also be able to remedy. 
Apollo, who sends the pestilence, is at the same time the 
healing god. Hence to the dwarfs likewise is ascribed a 
knowledge of the salutary virtues of stones and plants. 
In the popular tales we find them saving from sickness 
and death ; and while they can inflict injury on the cattle, 
they often also take them under their care. The care of 
deserted and unprotected children is also ascribed to them, 
and in heroic tradition they appear as instructors 2 . At 
the same time it cannot be denied that tradition much 
more frequently tells a widely different tale, representing 
them as kidnapping the children of human mothers and 
substituting their own changelings, dickkopfs or kiel- 
kropfs 3 . These beings are deformed, never thrive, and, 
in spite of their voracity, are always lean, and are, more 
over, mischievous. But that this tradition is a misrepre 
sentation, or at least a part only, of the original one, is 
evident from the circumstance, that when the changeling 
is taken back the mother finds her own child again safe 
and sound, sweetly smiling, and as it were waking out of 

1 Miiller, p. 336. 

2 Of this description was Regin, the instructor of Sigurd. See p. 95. 

3 See page 46. 


a deep sleep. It had, consequently, found itself very 
comfortable while under the care of the dwarfs, as they 
themselves also declare, that the children they steal find 
better treatment with them than with their own parents. 
By stripping this belief of its mythic garb, we should pro 
bably find the sense to be, that the dwarfs take charge of 
the recovery and health of sick and weakly children 1 . 

Hence it may also be regarded as a perversion of the 
ancient belief, when it is related that women are frequently 
summoned to render assistance to dwarf- wives in labour ; 
although the existence of such traditions may be con 
sidered as a testimony of the intimate and friendly rela 
tion in which they stand to mankind. But if we reverse 
the story and assume that dwarf-wives are present at the 
birth of a human child, we gain an appendage to the 
Eddaic faith that the Norns, who appeared at the birth 
of children, were of the race of dwarfs. In the traditions 
it is, moreover, expressly declared that the dwarfs take 
care of the continuation and prosperity of families. Pre 
sents made by them have the effect of causing a race to 
increase, while the loss of such is followed by the decline 
of the family 2 ; for this indicates a lack of respect towards 
these beneficent beings, which induces them to withdraw 
their protection. The anger of the dwarfs, in any way 
roused, is avenged by the extinction of the offender s 
race 3 . 

We have here made an attempt, out of the numerous 
traditions of dwarfs, to set forth, in a prominent point of 
view, those characteristics which exhibit their nobler nature, 
in the supposition that Christianity may also have vilified 
these beings as it has the higher divinities. At the same 
time it is not improbable that the nature of the dwarfs, 
even in heathen times, may have had in it something of 

* Miiller, p. 337. 2 See vol. iii. p. 51. 

Vol, ii. p. 239, and Miiller, p. 339. 


the mischievous and provoking, which they often display 
in the traditions 1 . 

Among the wicked tricks of the dwarfs one in particular 
deserves notice that they lay snares for young females 
and detain them in their habitations, herein resembling 
the giants, who, according to the Eddas, strive to get 
possession of the goddesses 2 . If services are to be ren 
dered by them, a pledge must be exacted from them 3 , or 
they must be compelled by force ; but if once overcome, 
they prove faithful servants and stand by the heroes in 
their conflicts with the giants, whose natural enemies they 
seem to be, though they are sometimes in alliance with 
them 4 . 

Popular tradition designates the dwarfs as heathens, 
inasmuch as it allows them to have power only over un- 
baptized children. It gives us further to understand that 
this belief is of ancient date, when it informs us that the 
dwarfs no longer possess their old habitations. They have 
emigrated, driven away by the sound of church bells, 
which to them, as heathenish beings, was hateful, or be 
cause people were malicious and annoyed them, that is, 
no longer entertained the same respect for them as in the 
time of heathenism. But that this faith was harmless, and 
could without prejudice exist simultaneously with Christi 
anity, appears from the tradition which ascribes to the 
dwarfs Christian sentiments and the hope of salvation 5 . 

The Northern conception of the Noras is rendered more 
complete by numerous passages in the Anglo-Saxon and 
Old-Saxon writers. In Anglo-Saxon poetry Wyrd mani 
festly occupies the place of Urd (Ur$r), the eldest Norn, 

1 Miiller, p. 341. 2 See pages 43, 55, 

3 Arndt s Marchen, i. p. 152. 4 Miiller, p. 342. 

5 Dwarfs go to church. Grimm, D. S. No. 23, 32. Kobolds are Chris 
tians, sing spiritual songs, and hope to be saved, Ib, i, pp. 112, 113, 
Miiller, p. 342. 


as the goddess of fate, who attends human beings when 
at the point of death ; and from the Codex Exoniensis 1 
we learn that the influence of the Norns in the guiding of 
fate is metaphorically expressed as the weaving of a web,, 
as the /juoipai and parcse are described as spinners. Thus, 
too, does the poet of the Heliand personify WURTH, whom, 
as a goddess of death, he in like manner makes an attend 
ant on man in his last hour 2 . 

We find not only in Germany traditions of WISE WOMEN, 
who, mistresses of fate, are present at the birth of a child ; 
but of the Keltic fairies it is also related that they hover 
about mortals as guardian spirits, appearing either three 
or seven or thirteen together nurse and tend new-born 
children, foretell their destiny, and bestow gifts on them, 
but among which one of them usually mingles something 
evil. Hence they are invited to stand sponsors, the place 
of honour is assigned them at table, which is prepared 
with the greatest care for their sake. Like the Norns, 
too, they spin 3 . 

Let us now endeavour to ascertain whether among the 
Germans there exist traces of a belief in the Valkyriur. 
In Anglo-Saxon the word wselcyrige (wselcyrie) appears as 

1 Me J>aet Wyrd gewsef. That Wyrd wove for me. Cod.Exon.p.355, 1. 

Wyrd oft nere^ Wyrd oft preserves 

unfacgne eorl, an undoom d man, 

>onne his elleu dean, when his valour avails. Beowulf, 1139. 

Him waes Wyrd To him was Wyrd 

ungemete neah. exceedingly near. Ib. 4836. 

Thiu uurd is at handum. The Wurd is at hand. Heliand, p. 146, 2. 

Thiu uurth nahida thuo, The Wurth then drew near, 

mari maht godes. the great might of God. Ib. 163, 16. 

In an Old High German gloss also we find w urt, fatum. Graff, i. p. 992. 

The English and Scotch have preserved the word the longest, as in the 
weird sisters of Macbeth and Gawen Douglas s Virgil ; the weird elves in 
Warner s Albion s England ; the weird lady of the woods in Percy s Re- 
liques. See Grimm, D. M. pp. 376-378 for other instances. 

2 Miiller, p. 346. 3 Ib. p. 349. 


an equivalent to necis arbiter, Bellona, Alecto, Erinnys, 
Tisiphone; the pi. vselcyrian toparcce, venefica-, and Anglo- 
Saxon poets use personally the nouns Hild and Gu3, 
words answering to the names of two Northern Valkyriur, 
Hildr and Gunnr (comp. hildr, pugna; gunnr, proelium, 
bellum). In the first Merseburg poem damsels, or idisi, 
are introduced, of whom "some fastened fetters, some 
stopt an army, some sought after bonds;" and therefore 
perform functions having reference to war 1 ; consequently 
are to be regarded as Valkyriur 2 . 

We have still a superstition to notice, which in some 
respects seems to offer a resemblance to the belief in the 
Valkyriur, although in the main it contains a strange 
mixture of senseless, insignificant stories. We allude to 
the belief in witches and their nightly meetings. 

The belief in magic, in evil magicians and sorceresses, 
who by means of certain arts are enabled to injure their 
fellow-creatures 3 to raise storms, destroy the seed in the 

1 The following is the poem alluded to in the text, with Grimm s Latin 
version : 

Eiris sazun idisi, Olim sedebant nymphse, 

sazun hera duoder, sedebant hue atque illuc, 

suma hapt heptidun aliae vincula vinciebant, 

surna heri lezidun, aliaj exercitum morabantur, 

suma clubodun 1 v 1V , 

> alias colligebant serta, 

umbi cumoumdi, J 

insprincg haptbandun, insultum diis complicibus, 

inuar uigandun. introiturn heroibus. 

the last two lines of which are particularly obscure. See Grimm, iiber 
zwei entdeckte Gedichte aus der Zeit des Deutschen Heidenthums. Ber 
lin, 1842; also W. Wackernagels Altdeutsches Lesebuch, edit. 1842. 
Vorrede, p. IX. D. M. p. 372. 

2 Miiller, p. 355. 

3 We subjoin the principal denominations of magicians and soothsayers, 
as affording an insight into their several modes of operation. The more 
general names are : divini, magi, harioli, vaticinatores, etc. More special 
ippellations are : sortilegi (sortiarii, ^pj/rruoXoyoi), diviners by lot ; in- 
icmtatores, enchanters ; somniorum conjectores, interpreters of dreams ; 



earth, cause sickness to man and beast is of remote an 
tiquity. It is found in the East and among the Greeks 
and Romans; it was known also to the Germans and 
Slaves in the time of their paganism, without their having 
borrowed it from the Romans. In it there is nothing to 
be sought for beyond what appears on the surface, viz. 
that low degree of religious feeling, at which belief sup 
poses effects from unknown causes to proceed from super 
natural agency, as from persons by means of spells, from 
herbs, and even from an evil glance a degree which can 
subsist simultaneously with the progressing religion, and, 
therefore, after the introduction of Christianity, could long 
prevail, and in part prevails down to the present day. 
Even in the time of heathenism it was, no doubt, a belief 
that these sorceresses on certain days and in certain places 
met to talk over their arts and the application of them, to 
boil magical herbs, and for other evil purposes. For as 
the sorcerer, in consequence of his occult knowledge and 
of his superiority over the great mass of human beings, 
became, as it were, isolated from them, and often har 
boured hostile feelings towards them, he was consequently 
compelled to associate with those who were possessed of 
similar power. It must, however, be evident that the 
points of contact are too few to justify our seeing the 
ground of German belief in witch-meetings in the old 
heathen sacrificial festivals and assemblies. And why 
should we be at the pains of seeking an historic basis for 
a belief that rests principally on an impure, confused 
deisidaimonia, which finds the supernatural where it does 

cauculatores and coclearii, diviners by offering-cups (comp. Du Fresne sub 
voce, and Indie. Superst. c. 22) ; haruspices, consulters of entrails (Capitul. 
vn. 370, Legg. Liutprandi vi. 30; comp. Indie, c. 16, and the divining 
from human sacrifices. Procop. de B. G. 2. 25) ; auspices (Ammian. Mar 
cel. 14. 9) ; obligatores, tiers of strings or ligatures (for the cure of dis 
eases) ; tempestarii, or immissores tempestatum, raisers of storms. 


not exist? That mountains are particularly specified as 
the places of assembly, arises probably from the circum 
stance that they had been the offering-places of our fore 
fathers ; and it was natural to assign the gatherings of the 
witches to known and distinguished localities *. Equally 
natural was it that the witches should proceed to the place 
of assembly through the air, in an extraordinary manner^ 
as on he-goats, broomsticks 2 , oven-forks and other uten 
sils 3 . 

After having thus briefly noticed the gods, the giants, 

1 The most celebrated witch-mountain is the well-known Bracken 
(Blocksberg } in the Harz ; others, of which mention occurs, are the ffui- 
berg near Halberstadt ; in Thuringia the Horselberg near Eisenach, or the 
Inselberg near Schmalkalde; in Hesse the Bechelsberg or Bechtelsberg 
near Ottrau; in Westphalia the Koterberg near Corvei, or the Weckings- 
stein near Mind en ; in Swabia, in the Black Forest, at Kandel in the 
Brisgau, or the Heuberg near Balingen ; in Franconia the Kreidenberg 
near Wiirzburg, and the Staffelstein near Bamberg ; in Alsace the Bisch- 
enberg and Bilchelberg. The Swedish trysting-place is the Blakulla (ac 
cording to Ihre, a rock in the sea between Smaland and Gland, literally the 
Black Mountain), and the Nasajjall m Norrland. The Norwegian witches 
also ride to the Blaakolle, to the Dovrefjeld, to the Lyderhorn near Bergen, 
to Kiarru, to Vardo and Domen in Finmark, to Troms (i. e. Trommenfjeld), 
a mountain in the isle of Tromso, high up in Finmark. The Neapolitan 
streghe (striges) assemble under a nut-tree near Benevento. Italian witch- 
mountains are : the Barco di Ferrara, the Paterno di Bologna, Spinato 
della Mirandola, Tossale di Bergamo and La Croce del Pasticcio, of the 
locality of which I am ignorant. In France the Puy de D6me, near Cler- 
mont in Auvergne, is distinguished. Grimm, D. M. p. 1004. In Lanca 
shire the witches assembled at Malkin Tower by the side of " the mighty 
Pendle," of whom the same tradition is current relative to the transform 
ing of a man into a horse by means of a bridle, as we find in vol. ii. p. 190 ; 
also that of striking off a hand (see vol. ii. p. 32, and vol. iii. p. 26). See 
Roby s Popular Traditions of England, vol. ii. pp. 211-253, edit. 1841. 

2 On their way to the Blocksberg, Mephistopheles says to Faust : 

"Verlangst du nicht nach einem Besenstiele ? 
Ich wiinschte mir den allerderbsten Bock. 

Dost thou not long for a broomstick ? 
I could wish for a good stout he-goat. 

3 Miiller, p. 357. 

M 2 


the dwarfs, etc., there remains for consideration a series 
of subordinate beings, who are confined to particular loca 
lities, having their habitation in the water, the forests and 
woods, the fields and in houses, and who in many ways 
come in contact with man ] . 

A general expression for a female demon seems to have 
been minne, the original signification of which was, no 
doubt, woman. The word is used to designate female 
water-sprites and wood-wives 2 . 

Holde is a general denomination for spirits, both male 
and female, but occurs oftenest in composition, as brun- 
nenholden, wasserholden (spirits of the springs and waters). 
There are no bergholden or waldholden (mountain-holds, 
forest-holds), but dwarfs are called by the diminutive 
holdechen. The original meaning of the w r ord is bonus 
genius, whence evil spirits are designated wttholds 3 . 

The name of Bilwiz (also written Pilwiz, Pilewis, Bui- 
weeks) is attended with some obscurity. The feminine 
form Bulwechsin also occurs. It denotes a good, gentle 
being, and may either, with Grimm 4 , be rendered by 
tequum sciens, aquus, bonus , or with Leo by the Keltic 
bilbheith, bilbhith (from bil, good, gentle, and bheith or bhith, 
a being) . Either of these derivations would show that 
the name was originally an appellative ; but the traditions 
connected with it are so obscure and varying, that they 
hardly distinguish any particular kind of sprite. The 
Bilwiz shoots like the elf, and has shaggy or matted hair 5 . 

In the latter ages, popular belief, losing the old nobler 
idea of this supernatural being, as in the case of Holla and 
Berchta, retained the remembrance only of the hostile side 
of its character. It appears, consequently, as a torment- 

1 Miiller, p. 365. 2 Ib. p. 366. 3 Ib. p. 366. 

4 D. M. p. 440, which see for further illustration of the subject ; and 
Miiller, p. 367. 

5 Bilwitzen (bilmitzen) signifies to tangle or mat the hair. Miiller, p. 367. 


ing, terrifying, hair- and beard-tangling, grain-cutting 
sprite, chiefly in a female form, as a wicked sorceress or 
witch. The tradition belongs more particularly to the 
east of Germany, Bavaria, Franconia, Voigtland and Silesia. 
In Voigtland the belief in the bilsen- or bilver-schnitters, or 
reapers, is current. These are wicked men, who injure 
their neighbours in a most unrighteous way : they go at 
midnight stark naked, with a sickle tied on their foot, and 
repeating magical formula, through the midst of a field 
of corn just ripe. From that part of the field which they 
have cut through with their sickle all the corn will fly into 
their own barn. Or they go by night over the fields with 
little sickles tied to their great toes, and cut the straws, 
believing that by so doing they will gain for themselves 
half the produce of the field where they have cut 1 . 

The Schrat or Schratz remains to be mentioned. From 
Old High German glosses, which translate scratun by 
pilosi, and waltschrate by satyrus, it appears to have been 
a spirit of the woods. 

In the popular traditions mention occurs of a being 
named Judel, which disturbs children and domestic animals. 
When children laugh in their sleep, open their eyes and 
turn, it is said the Judel is playing with them. If it gets 
entrance into a lying-in woman s room, it does injury to 
the new-born child. To prevent this, a straw from the 
woman s bed must be placed at every door, then no Jiidel 
nor spirit can enter. If the Jiidel will not otherwise leave 
the children in quiet, something must be given it to play 
with. Let a new pipkin be bought, without any abate 
ment of the price demanded ; put into it some water from 
the child s bath, and set it on the stove. In a few days 
the Judel will have splashed out all the water. People also 
hang egg-shells, the yolks of which have been blown into 

1 Miffler, p. 367. 


the child s pap and the mother s pottage, on the cradle 
by linen threads, that the Jiidel may play with them in 
stead of with the child. If the cows low in the night, 
the Jiidel is playing with them l . But what are the Win- 
seln ? We are informed that the dead must be turned with 
the head towards the east, else they will be terrified by the 
Winseln, who wander hither from the west 2 . 

Of the several kinds of spirits, which we classify accord 
ing to the locality and the elements in which they have 
their abode, the principal are the demons of the water or 
the Nixen 3 . Their form is represented as resembling a 
human being, only somewhat smaller. According to some 
traditions, the Nix has slit ears, and is also to be known by 
his feet, which he does not willingly let be seen. Other tra 
ditions give the Nix a human body terminating in a fish s 
tail, or a complete fish s form. They are clothed like 
human beings, but the water-wives may be known by the 
wet hem of their apron, or the wet border of their robe. 
Naked Nixen, or hung round with moss and sedge, are 
also mentioned 4 . 

Like the dwarfs, the water-sprites have a great love of 
dancing. Hence they are seen dancing on the waves, or 
coming on land and joining in the dance of human beings. 
They are also fond of music and singing. From the 
depths of a lake sweetly fascinating tones sometimes ascend, 
oftentimes the Nixen may be heard singing. Extraor 
dinary wisdom is also ascribed to them, which enables 
them to foretell the future 5 . The water-wives are said to 

1 Grimm, Abergl. No. 62, 389, 454, from the Chemnitzer Rockenphi- 
losophie. 8 Ib. No. 545. 

3 The male water-sprite is called nz>, the female niaee. Comp. Ohg. 
nichus, crocodilus ; A. S. nicor, pi. niceras ; Sw. neck ; Dan. riok. Hnikarr 
and HnikutJr are names of Odin. 

4 Muller, p. 369. 

5 That water-sprites have the gift of prophecy has been the belief of 
many nations. We need only remind the reader of Nereus and Proteus. 


spin. By the rising, sinking, or drying up of the water 
of certain springs and ponds caused, no doubt, by the 
Nix the inhabitants of the neighbourhood judge whether 
the seasons will be fruitful or the contrary. Honours 
paid to the water-spirits in a time of drought are followed 
by rain l , as any violation of their sacred domain brings 
forth storm and tempest 2 . They also operate beneficially 
on the increase of cattle. They possess flocks and herds, 

1 Gregor. Tur. De Gloria Confess, cap. n. : " Mons erat in Gabalitano 
territorio (Gevaudan) cognomento Helanus, lacura habens magnum, ad 
quern certo tempore multitude rusticorum, quasi libamina lacui illi ex- 
hibens, linteamenta projiciebat, ac pannos, qui ad usum vestimenti virilis 
praebentur : nonnulii lanse vellera, plurimi etiam formas casei ac cerae vel 
panis, diversasque species, unusquisque juxta vires suas, quae dinurnerare 
perlongum puto. Veniebant autem cum plaustris potum cibumque de- 
ferentes, mactantes animalia et per triduum epulantes. Quarta autem die, 
cum discedere deberent, anticipabat eos tempestas cum tonitruo et coru- 
scatione valida ; et in tantum imber ingens cum lapidum violentia descen- 
debat, ut vix se quisquam eorum putaret evadere. Sic fiebat per singulos 
annos, et involvebatur insipiens populus in errore." Without doubt it 
was believed that the storm was in consequence of the offerings made to 
the spirit of the lake. 

The Keltic spring of Barenton, in the forest of Breziliande, may be 
here mentioned. If water was poured from the spring on its margin, rain 
was the consequence. Wace thus speaks of it : 

Aler i solent veneor 

A Berenton par grant chalor, 

Et o lor cors 1 ewe puisier, 

Et li perron de suz inoillier, 

For 50 soleient pluee aveir. Roman de Rou, ii. p. 143. 

Even at the present day processions are made to the spring, when the 
chief of the community dips his foot crosswise into the water. It is then 
believed that rain will fall before the procession reaches home. Ville- 
marque in Rev. de Paris, t. 41, pp. 47-58. 

2 If stones are thrown into the Mummelsee, the serenest sky becomes 
troubled and a storm arises. Grimm, D. S. No. 59. The belief is pro 
bably Keltish. Similar traditions are current of other lakes, as of the 
Lake of Pilatus, of Camarina in Sicily, etc. 


which sometimes come on land and mingle with those of 
men and render them prolific l . 

Tradition also informs us that these beings exercise an 
influence over the lives and health of human beings. Hence 
the Nixen come to the aid of women in labour 2 ; while the 
common story, as in the case of the dwarfs, asserts the 
complete reverse. The presence of Nixen at weddings brings 
prosperity to the bride; and new-born children are said 
to come out of ponds and springs ; although it is at the 
same time related that the Nixen steal children, for which 
they substitute changelings. There are also traditions of 
renovating springs (Jungbrunnen), which have the virtue 
of restoring the old to youth 3 . 

The water-sprites are said to be both covetous and 
bloodthirsty. This character is, however, more applicable 
to the males than to the females, who are of a gentler 
nature, and even form connections with human beings, 
but which usually prove unfortunate. Male water-sprites 
carry off young girls and detain them in their habitations, 
and assail women with violence. 

The water-sprite suffers no one from wantonness forcibly 
to enter his dwelling, to examine it, or to diminish its 
extent. Piles driven in for an aqueduct he will pull up 
and scatter; those w r ho wish to measure the depth of a 
lake he will threaten; he frequently will not endure 
fishermen, and bold swimmers often pay for their temerity 
with their lives. If a service is rendered to the water- 
sprite, he will pay for it no more than he owes ; though 
he sometimes pays munificently; and for the wares that 
he buys, he will bargain and haggle, or pay with old per- 

1 See vol. ii. pp. 170, 171. Muller, p. 371. 2 MSrk. Sagen, No. 83. 
3 Thus the rugged Else, Wolfdietrich s beloved, bathed in such a spring 
and came forth the beautiful Sigeminne. Muller, p. 373. 


forated coin. He treats even his relations with cruelty. 
Water-maidens, who have staid too late at a dance, or other 
water- sprites, who have intruded on his domain, he will 
kill without mercy : a stream of blood that founts up from 
the water announces the deed 1 . Many traditions relate 
that the water-sprite draws persons down with his net, 
and murders them ; that the spirit of a river requires his 
yearly offering, etc. 2 

To the worship of water-sprites the before-cited pas 
sage from Gregory of Tours bears ample witness. The 
prohibitions, too, of councils against the performance of 
any heathen rites at springs, and particularly against 
burning lights at them, have, no doubt, reference to the 
water-sprites. In later Christian times some traces have 
been preserved of offerings made to the demons of the 
water. Even to the present time it is a Hessian custom to 
go on the second day of Easter to a cave on the Meisner 3 , 
and draw water from the spring that flows from it, when 
flowers are deposited as an offering 4 . Near Louvain are 
three springs, to which the people ascribe healing virtues 5 . 
In the North it was a usage to cast the remnants of food 
into waterfalls 6 . 

Rural sprites cannot have been so prominent in the 
German religion as water-sprites, as they otherwise would 
have acted a more conspicuous part in the traditions. The 
Osnabriick popular belief tells of a Tremsemutter, who 
goes among the corn and is feared by the children. In 
Brunswick she is called the Kornweib (Corn wife). When 
the children seek for cornflowers, they do not venture too 

1 See vol. iii. p. 200. 2 Muller, p. 373. 

3 A chain of hills in Electoral Hesse. 

4 The Bavarian custom also of throwing a man wrapped in leaves or 
rushes into the water on Whit Monday may have originated in a sacrifice 
to appease the water-sprite. 

5 See vol. iii. p. 270. 6 Miiller, p. 376. 

M 5 


far in the field, and tell one another about the Cornwife 
who steals little children. In the Altmark and Mark of 
Brandenburg she is called the Roggenmohme l , and 
screaming children are silenced by saying : " Be still, else 
the Roggenmohine with her long, black teats will come 
and drag thee away ! " Or, according to other relations, 
"with her black iron teats." By others she is called 
Rockenmor, because like Holda and Berchta she plays all 
sorts of tricks with those idle girls who have not spun all 
off from their spinning-wheels (Rocken) by Twelfth day. 
Children that she has laid on her black bosom easily 
die. In the Mark they threaten children with the Erbsen- 
muhme 2 , that they may not feast on the peas in the field. 
In the Netherlands the Long Woman is know r n, who goes 
through the corn-fields and plucks the projecting ears. In 
the heathen times this rural or field sprite was, no doubt, 
a friendly being, to whose influence the growth and 
thriving of the corn were ascribed 3 . 

Spirits inhabiting the forests are mentioned in the older 
authorities, and at the present day people know them 
under the appellations of Waldleute (Forest -folk), Holz- 
leute (Wood-folk), Moosleute (Moss-folk), Wilde Leute 
(Wild folk) 4 . The traditions clearly distinguish the Fo- 

1 From roggen, rye, and muhme, aunt, cousin. 
" From Erbsen, peas. 

3 Miiller, pp. 378, sqq. Grimm, D. M. p. 445. Adalbert Kuhn, who 
in the collecting of German popular traditions is indefatigable, makes us 
acquainted with another female being, who bears a considerable resem 
blance to Holda, Berchta and others of that class, and is called the Mur- 
raue. See more of her in vol. iii. pp. 154, sq. 

4 The appellation of Schrat (p. 245) is also applicable to the Forest- 
sprites. The Goth, skohsl (Sainovtov) is by Grimm (D. M. p. 455) com 
pared with the 0. Nor. Skogr (forest), who thence concludes that it was 
originally a forest-sprite. Jornandes speaks of sylvestres homines, quos 
faunos ficarios vocant. " Agrestes feminas, quas silvaticas vocant." Bure- 

hard of Worinb, p. 198 d . 


rest-folk from the Dwarfs, by ascribing to them a larger 
stature, but have little more to relate concerning them 
than that they stand in a friendly relation to man, fre 
quently borrow bread and household utensils, for which 
they make requital l ; but are now so disgusted with the 
faithless world that they have retired from it. Such nar 
ratives are in close analogy with the dwarf-traditions, and 
it is, moreover, related of the females, that they are addicted 
to the ensnaring and stealing of children 2 . 

On the Saale they tell of a Buschgrossmutter (Bush-grand 
mother) and her Moosfrdulein (Moss -damsels). The Busch 
grossmutter seems almost a divine being of heathenism, 
holding sway over the Forest-folk ; as offerings were made 
to her. The Forest-wives readily make their appearance 
when the people are baking bread, and beg to have a loaf 
baked for them also, as large as half a millstone, which is 
to be left at an appointed spot. They afterwards either 
compensate for the bread, or bring a loaf of their own 
batch, for the ploughmen, which they leave in the furrow 
or lay on the plough, and are exceedingly angry if any one 
slights it. Sometimes the Forest-wife will come with a 
broken wheelbarrow, and beg to have the wheel repaired. 
She will then, like Berchta, pay with the chips that fall, 
which turn to gold ; or to knitters she gives a clew of 
thread that is never wound off. As often as any one twists 
the stem of a sapling, so that the bark is loosed, a Forest- 
wife must die. A peasant woman, who had given the 
breast to a screaming forest-child, the mother rewarded 
with the bark on which the child lay. The woman broke 

1 The wood- wives (Holzweibel) come to the wood-cutters and ask for 
something to eat, and will also take it out of the pots ; though they re 
munerate for what they have taken or borrowed in some other way, fre 
quently with good advice. Sometimes they will help in the labours of 
the kitchen or the wash ; but always express great dread of the Wild 
Huntsman, who persecutes them. Grimm, D. M. p. 452. 

2 Miiller, p. 379. 


off a piece and threw it in her load of wood : at home she 
found it was gold l . 

Like the dwarfs, the Forest-wives are dissatisfied with 
the present state of things. In addition to the causes 
already mentioned, they have some particular reasons. 
The times, they say, are no longer good since folks count 
the dumplings in the pot and the loaves in the oven, or 
since they piped* 2 the bread, and put cumin into it. Hence 
their precepts : 

Peel no tree, 

relate no dream, 

pipe no bread, or 

bake no cumin in bread, 

so will God help thee in thy need. 

A Forest-wife, who had just tasted a new-baked loaf, ran 
off to the forest screaming aloud : 

They ve baken for me cumin-bread, 
that on this house brings great distress ! 

And the prosperity of the peasant was soon on the wane, 
so that at length he was reduced to abject poverty 3 . 

Little Forest-men, who have long worked in a mill, have 
been scared away by the miller s men leaving clothes and 
shoes for them. It would seem that by accepting clothes 
these beings were fearful of breaking the relation subsist 
ing between them and men. We shall see presently that 
the domestic sprites act on quite a different principle 4 . 

1 Grimm, D. M. p. 452. 

2 To pipe the bread (das Brot pipen) is to impress the points of the 
fingers into the loaf, as is usual in most places. Perhaps the Forest-wives 
could not carry off piped bread. From a like cause they were, no doubt, 
averse to the counting. Whether the seasoning with cumin displeased 
them merely as being an innovation, or for some hidden cause, we know 
not, but the rime says : 

Kiimmelbrot unser Tod ! Cumin-bread our death ! 

Kiimmelbrot macht Angst und Cumin-bread makes pain and 

Noth ! affliction ! 

3 D. M. p. 452. 4 Ib. 


We have still a class of subordinate beings to consider, 
viz. the domestic sprites or Goblins (Kobolde). Nume 
rous as are the traditions concerning these beings, there 
seems great reason to conclude that the belief in them, in 
its present form, did not exist in the time of heathenism ; 
but that other ideas must have given occasion to its deve 
lopment. The ancient mythologic system has in fact no 
place for domestic sprites and goblins. Nevertheless, we 
believe that by tracing up through popular tradition, we 
shall discern forms, which at a later period were comprised 
under the name of Kobolds *. 

The domestic sprites bear a manifest resemblance to the 
dwarfs. Their figure and clothing are represented as per 
fectly similar; they evince the same love of occupation, 
the same kind, though sometimes evil, nature. We have 
already seen that the dwarfs interest themselves in the 
prosperity of a family 2 , and in this respect the Kobolds 
may be partially considered as dwarfs, who, for the sake of 
taking care of the family, fix their abode in the house. 
In the Netherlands the dwarfs are called Kabouterman- 
nekens, that is, Kobolds 3 . 

The domestic sprite is satisfied with a small remune 
ration, as a hat, a red cloak, and party-coloured coat with 
tingling bells. Hat and cloak he has in common with the 
dwarfs 4 . 

It may probably have been a belief that the deceased 
members of a family tarried after death in the house as 
guardian and succouring spirits, and as such, a veneration 
might have been paid them like that of the Romans to 
their lares. It has been already shown that in the heathen 
times the departed were highly honoured and revered, and 
we shall presently exemplify the belief that the dead cleave 

1 Mtiller, p. 381. According to the Swedish popular belief, the do 
mestic sprite had his usual abode in a tree near the house. 

2 See p. 11. 3 Muller, p. 382. 4 Grimm, D. M. p. 479. 


to the earthly, and feel solicitous for those they have left 
behind. Hence the domestic sprite may be compared to a 
lar familiaris, that participates in the fate of its family. It 
is, moreover, expressly declared in the traditions that do 
mestic sprites are the souls of the dead l , and the White 
Lady who, through her active aid, occupies the place of a 
female domestic sprite, is regarded as the ancestress of the 
family, in whose dwelling she appears 2 . 

When domestic sprites sometimes appear in the form of 
snakes, it is in connection with the belief 10. genii or spirits 
who preserve the life and health of certain individuals. 
This subject, from the lack of adequate sources, cannot be 
satisfactorily followed up ; though so much is certain, that 
as, according to the Roman idea, the genius has the form 
of a snake 3 , so, according to the German belief, this crea 
ture was in general the symbol of the soul and of spirits. 
Hence it is that in the popular traditions much is related 
of snakes which resembles the traditions of domestic sprites. 
Under this head we bring the tradition, that in every 
house there are two snakes, a male and a female, whose 
life depends on that of the master or mistress of the fa 
mily. They do not make their appearance until these 
die, and then die with them. Other traditions tell of 
snakes that live together with a child, whom they watch in 
the cradle, eat and drink with it. If the snake is killed, 
the child declines and dies shortly after. In general, 
snakes bring luck to the house in which they take up 
their abode, and milk is placed for them as for the do 
mestic sprites 4 . 

1 Kobolds are the souls of persons that have been murdered in the 
house. Grimm, D. S. No. 71. A knife sticks in their back. Ib.i. p. 224. 
a See vol. iii. p. 9. 

3 Servius in Virgil, vEn. v. 85. " Nullus locus sine genio est, qui per 
anguem plerumque ostenditur." 

4 Miiller, p. 383. 


We will now give a slight outline of the externals of 
divine worship among the heathen Germans. 

The principal places of worship were, consistently with 
the general character of the Germans, in the free, open na 
ture. The expression of Tacitus was still applicable "lucos 
ac nemora consecrant." Groves consecrated to the gods 
are therefore repeatedly mentioned, and heathen practices 
in them forbidden l . In Lower Saxony, even in the 
eleventh century, they had to be rooted up, by Bishop 
Unwan of Bremen, in order totally to extirpate the idola 
trous worship 2 . But still more frequently, as places of 
heathen worship, trees and springs are mentioned, either 
so that it is forbidden to perform any idolatrous rites at 
them, or that they are directly stigmatized as objects of 
heathen veneration 3 . At the same time we are not justified 

1 Lucos vetusta religione truces. Claud. Cons. Stilich. I. 289 ; De 
sacris silvarum, quae Nimidas vocant. Indie. Superst. 6 ; Lucorum vel fon- 
tium auguria. Bonifac. Ep. 44. ed. Wiirdtw. ; Si quis ad lucos votum 
fecerit. Capit. de Part. Saxon, c. 21. Comp. Capit. Francof. a. 794, c. 41 ; 
Sylvam Sytheri, quae fuit Thegathon sacra. Pertz, Monum. ii. 377. For 
the name of Thegathon see D. M. p. 65. 

2 Vita Meinwerci, c. 22 ; comp. Adam. Brem. c. 86. 

3 Claud. Cons. Stilich. i. 290 : Robora numinis instar barbarici ; Aga- 
thias, 28. 4. edit. Bonn., of the Alamanni: devdpa re yap nva \\dcrKovTai 
Kai peWpa 7TOTap.<Zv ical X60ous KO.I <j)dpayyas, icai TOVTOIS axrTrep o&ia 
Spwvres. Gregor. Tur. n. c, 10. of the Franks : sibi silvarum atque aqua- 
rum, avium,bestiarum et aliorum quoque elementorum finxere formas, ipsas- 
que ut deum colere ej usque sacrificia delibare consueti. Comp. Gregor. M. 
Epist. 7, 5 : ne idolis immolent, nee cultores arborum existant. Rudolf of 
Fulda (Pertz, ii. 676) of the Saxons : Frondosis arboribus fontibusque ve- 
nerationem exhibebant. In the Lives of the Saints sacred trees are par 
ticularly noticed. In the first place the oak dedicated to Jupiter, at Gheismar 
near Fritzlar, which St. Boniface cut down, is to be mentioned : Wilibaldi 
Vita Bonifacii (Pertz, ii. 343) : Arborem quandam mirae magnitudinis, qua? 
prisco paganorum vocabulo appellatur robur Jovis, in loco qui dicitur 
Gaesmere, servis Dei secuni astantibus, succidere tentavit. Vita S. Amandi 
(ob. 674), Mabillon, Act. Bened. sec. 2. p. 714 : arbores et ligna pro dco 
colere ; and p. 718: ostendit ei locum, in quo praedictum idolum adorare 
consueverat, scilicet arborem, quae erat daemon! dedicata. Audoeni Roto- 


in assuming that a sort of fetish adoration of trees and 
springs existed among them, and that their religious rites 
were unconnected with the idea of divine or semi-divine 
beings, to whom they offered adoration ; for the entire 
character of the testimonies cited in the note sufficiently 
proves that through them the externals only of the pagan 
worship have been transmitted to us, the motives of which 
the transmitters either did not or would not know l . 

As sacred spots, at which offerings to the gods were 
made, those places were particularly used where there were 
trees and springs. The trees were sacred to the gods, 

mag, Vita Eligii n. c. 16 : Nullus Christianus ad fana, vel ad petras, vel ad 
fontes, vel ad arbores, aut ad cellos, vel per trivia Imninaria faciat, aut vota 
reddere praesumat. nee per fontes aut arbores, vel bivios diabolica phy- 
lacteria exerceantur. fontes vel arbores, quos sacros vocant, succidite. 
On the Blood Tree of the Langobards, Vita S. Barbati (ob. 683), Act. S.S. 
19 Feb. p. 139 : Quinetiam non longe a Beneventi moenibus devotissime 
sacrilegam colebant arborem. Comp. Leges Liutpr. vi. 30 : Qui ad arborem, 
quam rustici sanguinum (al. sanctivam, sacrivam) vocant, atque ad fontanas 
adoraverit. The prohibitions in the decrees of the councils and the laws 
usually join trees with springs, or trees, springs, rocks and crossways to 
gether. Cone. Autissiod. a. 586, c. 3 : ad arbores sacrivas vel ad fontes vota 
exsolvere. Comp. Cone. Turon. n. a. 566, c. 22 ; Indie. Superst. c. 11 ; Bur- 
chard of Worms, Collect. Decret. x. 10 (Cone. Namnet. a. 895, c. 8) : arbores 
daemonibus consecratae, quas vulgus colit et in tanta veneratione habet, 
ut nee ramum rel surculum audeat amputare. Ib. xix. 5 (comp. D. M. 
p. xxxvi. 1st edit.) : Venisti ad aliquem locum ad orandum nisi ad eccle- 
siam, i. e. vel ad fontes, vel ad lapides, vel ad bivia, et ibi aut candelam 
aut faculam pro veneratione loci incendisti, aut panem aut aliquani obla- 
tionem illuc detulisti, aut ibi comedisti ? Comp. x. 2. 9. Capitul. de Part. 
Sax. c. 21: Si quis ad fontes, aut arbores, vel lucos votum fecerit, aut 
aliquid more gentilium obtulerit et ad honorem daemonum comederit. 
Capit. Aquisgr. i. c. 63 : De arboribus, vel petris, vel fontibus, ubi aliqui 
stulti luminaria accendunt, vel aliquas observationes faciunt. Comp. Capit. 
Francof. a. 794, c. 41. Capitt. lib. i. c. 62, vn. 316, 374, Lex Wisigoth. 
lib. vi. 2, 4. Ecgb. Penit. iv. 19. Law of North. Priests, 54 ; Leges Cnuti, 
Sec. 5 ; Can. Eadgari, 16. Whether all the passages which refer to Gaul 
are applicable to German heathenism is not always certain, as trees and 
springs were held sacred also by the Kelts. 
i Miiller, p. 58. 


whose festivals were solemnized near or under them ; an 
instance of which is the oak sacred to Jupiter, which Boni 
face caused to be felled. These trees, as we shall presently 
see, were, at the sacrificial feasts, used for the purpose of 
hanging on them either the animals sacrificed or their 
hides, whence the Langobardish Blood-Tree derives its 
name 1 . Similar was the case with regard to the springs 
at which offerings were made; they were also sacred to 
the god whose worship was there celebrated, as is con- 
firmed by the circumstance, that certain springs in Ger 
many were named after gods and were situated near their 
sanctuaries 2 . How far these were needful in sacrificial 
ceremonies, and in what manner they were used, we know 
not 3 . 

But the worship of trees and springs may in reality 
have consisted in a veneration offered to the spirits who, 
according to the popular faith, had their dwelling in them ; 
tradition having preserved many tales of beings that in 
habited the woods and waters, and many traces of such 
veneration being still extant, of which we shall speak here 
after. It seems, however, probable that the worship of 
such spirits, who stood in a subordinate relation to the 
gods, was not so prominent and glaring that it was deemed 
necessary to issue such repeated prohibitions against it 4 . 

This double explanation applies equally to the third 
locality at which heathen rites were celebrated stones 

1 If such be the true reading, which is very questionable (see note, 
p. 256). The word Hood has no connection with the verb blotan, to 

2 Muller, pp. 58-61. Near the grove of the Frisian god Fosite there 
was a sacred spring. Comp. Vita S. Remacli, c. 12 : Warchinnam rivulum 
accedit (the scene of the incident was the Ardennes), invenit illic certa 
indicia loca ilia quondam idololatriae fuisse mancipata. Erant illic lapides 
Dianse, et id genus portentosis nominibus inscripti, vel effigies eorum ha- 
bentes ; f antes etiara, hominum quidem usibus apti, sed gentilismi errori- 
bus polluti, atque ob id etiamnuin dsemonum infestation! obnoxii. 

3 Muller, p. 61. 4 Ib. p. 62. 


and rocks 1 . In stones, according to the popular belief, 
the dwarfs had their abode ; but principally rugged stone 
altars are thereby understood, such as still exist in many 
parts of Germany 2 . 

We are unable to say with certainty whether the before- 
mentioned offering-places served at the same time as 
burying-grounds of the dead, a supposition rendered pro 
bable by the number of urns containing ashes, which are 
often found on spots supposed to have been formerly 
consecrated to heathen worship. But the graves of the 
dead, at all events, seem designated as offering-places 3 . 
That such offerings at graves were sometimes made to the 
souls of the departed, who after death were venerated as 
higher and beneficent beings, may be assumed from the 
numerous prohibitions, by the Christian church, against 
offering to saints, and regarding the dead indiscriminately 
as holy 4 ; although not all the sacrificia mortuorum and 
the heathen observances, which at a later period took place 
at burials 5 , may have had reference to the dead, but may 

1 See p. 255, note 3 . Comp. Indie. Superst. c. 7. Cone. Namnet. c. 20 : 
lapides, quos in ruinosis locis et silvestribus daemonum ludificationibus 
decepti venerantur, ubi et vota vovent et deferunt. Eccard, Fran. Orient. 
i. p. 415. 

2 Muller, p. 62. 

3 Burchard, 19. 5 : Comedisti aliquid de idolothito, i. e. de oblationibus 
quse in quibusdam locis ad sepulchra mortuorum fiunt, vel ad fontes, aut 
ad arbores, aut ad lapides, aut ad bivia. 

4 Indie. Superst. c. 9 : De sacrificio quod fit alicui sanctorum ; c. 25 : 
De eo quod sibi sanctos finguut quoslibet mortuos. Cone. Germ. a. 742. 
can. 5 (comp. Capitul. vn. 128) : ut populus Dei paganias non faciat, sed 
omnes spurcities gentilitatis abjiciat et respuat, sive profana sacrificia mor 
tuorum, sive hostias immolatitias, quas stulti homines juxta ecclesias ritu 
pagano faciunt, sub nomine sanctorum martyrum vel confessorum. 

5 Indie. Superst. cc. 1, 2. Burchard, 10, 34. Bonifac. Ep. 44: sacri 
ficia mortuorum respuentes. Ep. 82: sacrilegis presbyteris, qui tauros et 
hircos diis paganorum immolabant, manducantes sacrificia mortuorum. 
Capit. vi. 197 : Admoneantur fideles ut ad suos mortuos non agant ea 
qua? de paganorum ritu remanserunt. Et quando eos ad sepulturam porta- 
verint, ilium ululatum excelsum non faciant et super eorum tumulos 


also have had the gods for object. Hence we may safely 
conclude that all the heathen rites, which were performed 
at springs, stones and other places, had a threefold refer 
ence : their object being either the gods, the subordinate 
elementary spirits, or the dead ; but in no wise were life 
less objects of nature held in veneration by our forefathers 
for their own sakes alone 1 . 

It now remains for consideration whether the gods were 
worshiped only in such places in the open air, or whether 
temples were erected to them. In answer to this question 
we shall limit ourselves to a few general observations 2 . 

In general it appears that temples, even at the period 
of the conversion, were, as in the time of Tacitus, but few. 
In the interior of Germany it is probable that none existed ; 
for, had the case been otherwise, we should hardly have 
been without some notice of a temple among the Saxons 3 . 
There is, however, little doubt that the Frisians had tem 
ples ; for the words of the Lex Frisionum : Qui templum 
effregerit immoletur diis, quorum templa violavit 4 ," 

nee manducare nee bibere praesumant. Towards the middle of the ninth 
century the Roman synod under Leo IV. forbade to the Saxons the car- 
mina diabolica, quae nocturnis horis super mortuos vulgus facere solet. 
Comp. Wackernagel, Das Wessobrunner Gebet, p. 25. 

1 Miiller, p. 63. 

2 Grimm has collected and discussed all the authorities which make 
mention of temples among the German tribes. See D. M. pp. 70-77. 
Miiller, p. 65. 

3 The passage of the Capitulary de Part. Saxon, i. : " ut ecclesiae Christi 
non minorem habeant honorem, sed majorem et excellentiorem quam fana 
(ap. Pertz vana) habuissent idolorum," is rejected by Schaumann, Gesch. 
des Niedersachs. Volks, p. 133. Comp. Beda s account of the destruction 
of the Anglian temple at Godmundham in Yorkshire (a. 627), also in 
Lappenberg s England, i. pp. 151-153. 

4 Lex Frisionum Addit. Sap. xn According to the Vita S. Liudgeri, 
i. 8, treasures were kept in the Frisian temples. Comp. also "fana in 
morem gentilium circumquaque erecta" in the Vita S, Willehadi (ob. 789), 
ap. Pertz, ii. 381, and the fana of Fosite in Vita S. Willebrordi (ob. 739) 
in Act. Bened. sec. 3, p. 609; Altfridi Vita S. Liudgeri ap. Pertz, ii. 410. 


precludes all doubt on the subject. But with respect to 
the temples, of which mention is made, either on the 
Rhine or in Gaul (where the greater number occur), it is 
doubtful whether they are not rather to be considered as 
Keltic, which the invading Franks and Burgundians ap 
propriated to themselves; as heathenism is inclined to 
dedicate to its own worship places regarded by others as 
holy. With respect to other places, the accounts supplied 
by the authorities are so vague, that it cannot be pro 
nounced with certainty whether the question is of a temple 
or a grove, as the " fanum arboribus eonsitum," which is 
mentioned among the Langobardi l , can certainly have 
been only a grove. The fourth chapter of the Indiculus, 
" De casulis, i. e. fanis," may refer to small buildings, 
in which probably sacrificial utensils or sacred symbols 
were kept 2 . 

The paucity of temples among the Germans implies also 
a paucity of idols among them ; for the heathen temple 
did not, like a Christian church, serve for the reception of 
a holyday congregation, but was originally a mere shelter 
or house for the image of the god. Certainly we are not 
justified in totally denying the presence of images ; as it 
is expressly stated that the Gothic king Athanric (ob. 382) 
caused a carved image to be carried about 3 , which, like 
Nerthus, was everywhere received with prayers and offer 
ings. Nor are we, at the same time, justified in as 
suming the fact of their existence among all the German 
nations ; and although in the authorities idola and simu 
lacra are repeatedly mentioned, and great zeal is mani 
fested against the folly of the heathen, in expecting aid 
from images of gold, silver, stone and wood ; yet are these 
only general forms of speech directed against idolatry, and 

1 Vita S. Bertulfi Bobbiensis (ob. 640), in Act. Bened. sec. 2, p. 164. 

2 Miiller, p. 65. 

3 %6avov e<j) appafjid^s eorws. Sozomen. Hist. Eccles. vi. 37. 


applying rather to Roman than German heathenism 1 . We 
have in fact no genuine or trustworthy testimony that 
clearly describes to us an idol in Germany Proper. In no 
Life of a saint is it related that a converter destroyed such 
an idol. On the contrary, all the passages, which here 
enter into consideration, point either to a blending of 
foreign worship, or, on closer examination, there is no 
question in them of an idol, or they are of doubtful cha 
racter 2 . 

The three brazen and gilt images, which St. Gall found 
and destroyed at Bregenz on the Lake of Constance, built 
into the wall of a church dedicated to St. Aurelia, and 
venerated by the people as gods, were no doubt of Roman 
origin 3 , like those stone images which St. Columban (ob. 
615) met with at Luxeuil in Franche Comte 4 . The statue 
of Diana at Treves, and the images of Mars and Mercury 
in the south of Gaul, of which Gregory of Tours makes 
mention 5 , are likewise rather Roman or Keltic than Ger 
man. Not even the noted and in other respects remark 
able passage of Widukind (i. 12), according to which the 
Saxons, after their victory over the Thuringians on the 
Unstrut, raised an altar and worshiped a god "nomine 
MaYtem,effigie columnarwn imitantesHerculem,loco Solera, 

1 Similar forms of speech are numerous : e. g. Gregor. Tur. Hist. Franc, 
ii. 29. Willibald, Vita Bonifac. II. 339, ap. Pertz. Vita Willehadi, ib. II. 
380. Bonifac. Ep. 6 ; Vita Lebuini, ib. II. 362. Vita S. Kiliani in Act. 
Bened. sec. 2. p. 992. Idola was the usual denomination of the heathen 
gods. The passages, however, in the Vita Bonifacii and Vita Willehadi, 
which refer to the Frisians, may appear convincing, as they had temples 

2 Miiller, p. 65. 

3 Walafrid. Strab. Vita S. Galli, in Act. Bened. sec. 2. p. 233. Comp. 
Vita S. Galli ap. Pertz, ii. 7 ; Ratperti Casus S. Galli, ap. Pertz, ii. 61. 

4 JonseBobbiensisVitaS.Columbani,c. 17,in Act. Bened. sec. 2. pp.12, 13. 

5 Hist. Franc, vm. 15. Mirac. 2. 5 : grande delubrum, ubi in columna 
altissima simulacrum Martis Mercuriique colebatur. 


quern Grseci appellant Apollinem," appears to us unques 
tionably to indicate a true idol. We can infer from the 
words of Widukind nothing more than the erection of a 
column similar to the Irmenseule at Eresburg, which 
Charles the Great destroyed. In the passages which relate 
to this latter 1 it is called sometimes idolum, sometimes 
fanum, sometimes lucus , but the word itself shows that 
Rudolf of Fulda was right in defining it truncum ligni 
non parvaB magnitudinis in altum erectum," nor is his 
expression for it of "universalis columna" an unfitting 
one 2 . 

The history of the development of Greek and Roman 
image worship may aid us to a clearer insight into our 
native heathenism. The Greek representation of a god 
had not from the commencement the pretension of being a 
likeness of the god, but was only a symbol of his presence, 
for a sense of which the piety of ancient times required 
the less of externals the more deeply it was impressed 
with the belief of that presence 3 . An external sign of the 
divinity was, nevertheless, necessary for the sake of having 
an object on which pious veneration of the gods might 
manifest itself. As, therefore, both in Hellas and Italy, 
the antique representations of the gods, as lances, etc., 
were mere symbols, in like manner we may regard the 
swords of the Quadi and the golden snakes of the Lango- 
bardi only as consecrated signs announcing the presence 
of the god. The representations of the gods next deve 
loped themselves, among the Greeks, under the form of 
rough stones, stone pillars and wooden poles, which were 

1 See the passages relating to the Irmenseule in Meibom. de Irminsula 
Saxonica, in Rer. Germ. Scriptt. iii. pp. 2, sq. D. M. pp. 105, sq. Comp. 
also Ideler s Einhard, i. 156, sq. 

2 Miiller, p. 67. Rudolf. Fuld. Transl. S. Alexandri, ap. Pertz, ii. 676. 

3 0. Miiller, Handbuch der Archseologie der Kunst, 66. 


set up and regarded as images of the gods. Raised-up 
poles or beams were, no doubt, also among the Germans 
the prevailing and still symbolic species of images. The 
Irmenseule was such a pole : to such an image, if so it can 
be called, to a simple up-raised pillar, does the before 
quoted passage of Widukind allude 1 . 

That prayers to the gods were frequently composed in a 
metrical form, that religious songs and poems existed, is 
evident from the circumstance that the Langobardi offered 
to one of their gods the head of a goat, with certain cere 
monies and accompanied by a song 2 . The passage which 
gives this account affords ground for the supposition that 
certain saltations took place at the sacrifices. And why 
should there not be religious songs at this period, when, at 
a still earlier, songs in honour of Hercules were sung be 
fore a battle, when Tacitus makes mention of old mytho- 
epic songs in which the traditions of the German people 
were recorded ? The oldest poetry of a nation generally 
attaches itself closely to religion, and the numerous forms 
of adjurations and spells, which through tradition we have 
inherited from heathenism, are for the most part com 
posed in a rhythmical garb. It may, therefore, be reason 
ably supposed that the popular songs were, in the first 
Christian centuries, so bitterly decried by the clergy be 
cause they contained many remains of heathenism, and, 
consequently, seemed perilous to Christianity. The stig 
matizing of the popular songs as carmina diabolica, the 
predicates turpia, inepta, obsccena applied to them give 
to this supposition additional strength; and the Capitu 
laries explicitly forbid dances and songs as relics of 

1 Miiller, p. 70. 

2 Gregor. M. Dialog. III. 28 : Caput caprse ei (diabolo) per circuitum 
currentes, carmine nefando dedicantes. In the grove of sacrifice by Up- 
sala naenia inhonesta resounded. Ad. Brem. p. 144, edit. Lindenbrog. 


heathenism 1 . At funerals also heathen religious songs 
were sung 2 . 

With prayer, sacrifice, which formed the chief part of 
heathen worship, was inseparably connected. In general 
there was prayer only at the sacrifices. The principal 
sacrifice was a human one, the offering of which by all the 
Germanic races is fully proved 3 . Human beings appear 
chiefly to have served for sacrifices of atonement, and were 
either offered to the malign deities, or, as propitiatory, to 
the dead in the nether world 4 . The custom of burning 
the servants and horses with the corpse, must, therefore, 
be understood as a propitiatory sacrifice to the shade of 
the departed 5 . 

The testimonies just cited on the subject of human 

1 Capit. vi. c. 196 : Illas veto balationes et saltationes, cantica turpia 
et luxuriosa, et ilia lusa diabolica non facial, nee in plateis nee in domibus 
neque in ullo loco, quia hfec de paganorum consuetudine remanserunt. 
Vita S. Eligii, II. 16 : Nullas saltationes, aut choraulas, aut cantica dia 
bolica exerceat. For the prohibitions of the ancient popular songs, the reader 
is referred to the collections of extracts on the subject, as Wackernagel, 
Das Wessobrunner Gebet, pp. 25-29 ; Hofmann, Geschichte des Deutschen 
Kirchenliedes, pp. 8-11 ; Massmann, Abschworungsformeln. 

2 Miiller, p. 74. 

3 For human sacrifices among the Goths, see Jornandes, c. 5 ; Isidori 
Chron. Goth, sera 446; among the Heruli, Procop. de Bello Goth. n. 14; 
among the already converted Franks, ib. II. 25 ; the Saxons, Sidon. Apoll. 
8. 6, Capit. de Part. Sax. 9 ; the Frisians, Lex Fris. Addit. Sap. Tit. 12 ; 
Thuringians, Bonifac. Ep. 25. Comp. D. M. p. 39. 

4 The great sacrifice at Lethra, described by Dietmar of Merseburg, I. 9, 
at which ninety-nine men, and a like number of horses, dogs and cocks 
were offered, was evidently a sacrifice of propitiation. 

5 Miiller, p. 76. Tacitus (Germ. 27) testifies only to the burning of the 
horse. In the North servants and hawks were burnt with the corpse. In 
the grave of King Childeric a human skull was found, which was supposed 
to have been that of his marshal. The wives of the Heruli hanged them 
selves at the graves of their husbands. Procop. B. G. II. 14. Among the 
Gauls also it was customary to burn the slaves and clients with the corpse 
of a man of high rank. Caesar, B. G. IV. 19. 


sacrifices inform us at the same time that prisoners of war 

as in the time of Tacitus purchased slaves or criminals 

were especially chosen for sacrifice 1 . When a criminal 
was sacrificed, his death was at the same time the penalty 
of his misdeeds. He was offered to the god whom, it was 
believed, he had particularly offended, and his execution, 
decreed by the law, was reserved for the festival of that 
divinity. This usage, which gives an insight into the inti 
mate connection between law and religion, and shows the 
punishment of death among the Germans in a peculiar 
light, is particularly conspicuous among the Frisians. 
This people put criminals chosen for sacrifice to death in 
various ways ; they were either decapitated with a sword, 
or hanged on a gallows, or strangled, or drowned 2 . A 
more cruel punishment awaited those who had broken into 
and robbed the temple of a god 3 . 

Of animals used for sacrifice, horses, oxen and goats are 
especially mentioned. The horse-sacrifice was the most 
considerable, and is particularly characteristic of the Ger 
manic races. The heads were by preference offered to the 
gods, and were fixed or hung on trees. The hides also of 
the sacrificed animals were suspended on sacred trees. In 
the North the flesh of the sacrifices was boiled, and the 
door-posts of the temple were smeared with their blood 4 . 

1 According to the Vita S. Wulframmi (ob. 720) in Act. Bened. sec. 3, 
pp. 359, 361, the individuals to be sacrificed were sometimes chosen by 
lot. The accounts given in this Life seem rather fabulous, but are, never 
theless, not to be rejected. S. Willibrord and his companions, when they 
had desecrated the sanctuary of Fosite, were subjected to the lot, and the 
one on whom the lot fell was executed. Alcuini Vita S. Willibr. c. 10. 
Among the Slaves also human sacrifices were determined by lot. Jahrb. 
fur Slaw. Lit. 1843, p. 392. 

2 Vita S. Wulframmi, p. 360. 

3 Miiller, p. 77. Lex Frisionum, Addit. Sap. Tit. 12. Qui fanum effre- 
gerit et ibi aliquid de sacris tulerit, ducitur ad mare, et in sabulo, quod 
accessus maris operire solet, finduntur aures ejus, et castratur, et immo- 
latur diis, quorum templa violavit. 4 Miiller, p. 79. 



The Indiculus (cap. 26) leads to the supposition of a 
particular kind of offering. The Simulacrum de consparsa 
farina there mentioned appears to be the baked image of 
a sacrificial animal, which was offered to the gods in the 
stead of a real one. Similar usages are known to us among 
the Greeks and Romans, and in Sweden, even in recent 
times, it was a custom on Christmas eve to bake cakes in 
the form of a hog 1 . 

It was extremely difficult to prevent a relapse into 
heathenism, seeing that to retain a converted community 
in the true faith, well-instructed ecclesiastics were indis 
pensable, and these were few in number, the clergy being 
but too frequently persons of profane and ungodly life. 
In many cases it was doubtful whether they had even re 
ceived ordination 2 . Instances might therefore occur like 
that recorded in the Life of St. Gall, that in an oratory 
dedicated to St. Aurelia idols were afterwards worshiped 
with offerings 3 ; and we have seen that the Franks, after 
their conversion, in an irruption into Italy, still sacrificed 
human victims. Even when the missionaries believed 
their work sure, the return of the season, in which the 
joyous heathen festivals occurred, might in a moment call 
to remembrance the scarcely repressed idolatry ; an inter 
esting instance of which, from the twelfth century, we 
shall see presently. The priests, whose duty it was to 
retain the people in their Christianity, permitted them 
selves to sacrifice to the heathen gods, if, at the same time, 
they could perform the rite of baptism 4 . They were 
addicted to magic and soothsaying 5 , and were so infatu- 

1 Miiller, p. 80. See vol. ii. p. 50. 2 Bonifac. Ep. 38, 46. 

3 See page 249. 

4 Bonifac. Ep. 25 : Qui a presbytero Jovi mactante et immolatitias car- 
nes vescente baptizati sunt. Comp. Ep. 82 and Capitul. vii. 405. 

5 Statut. Bonifac. 33, p. 142, ed. Wiirdtw. : Si quis presbyter aut cleri- 
cus auguria, vel divinationes, aut somnia, sive sortes, seu phylacteria, id 
est, scripturas, observaverit. 


ated with heathenism that they erected crosses on hills, 
and with great approbation of the people, celebrated Chris 
tian worship on heathen offering-places 1 . 

But the clergy were under the necessity of suffering 
much heathenism to remain, if they would not totally dis 
turb and subvert the social order of life. Heathen insti 
tutions of a political nature might no more be attacked 
than others, which a significant and beneficial custom had 
made venerable and inviolable. The heathen usages con 
nected with legal transactions must for the most part re 
main, if the clergy would not also subvert the law itself, 
or supplant it by the Roman code, according to which they 
themselves lived. Hence the place and time of the judicial 
assemblies remained unchanged in their connection with 
the heathen offering-places and festivals 2 ; although the 
offerings which had formerly been associated with these 
meetings had altogether ceased. In like manner the old 
heathen ordeals maintained their ground, though in a Chris 
tian guise. Offenders must be punished, and the clergy 
patiently saw heathen practices accompanying the punish 
ment, because the culprit was an unworthy Christian 3 . In 

1 Miiller, p. 103. Bonifac. Ep. 87 : Pseudosacerdotes, qui sine episcopo, 
proprio arbitrio viventes, populares defensores habentes contra episcopos, 
ut sceleratos mores eorum non confringant, seorsuui populum consen- 
taneum congregant, et illud erroneum ministerium non in ecclesia catholica, 
sed per agrestia loca, per colles rusticorum, ubi eorum imperita stultitia 
celari episcopos possit, perpetrarit, nee fidem catholicam paganis predicant, 
nee ipsi fidem rectam habent. Of the Prankish priest Adalbert it is said, 
that he seduced the people, ita ut cruces statuens in campis et oratoriola, 
illuc faciat populum concurrere, publicasque ecclesias relinquere. Comp. 
Ep. 59, 67. 

2 Grimm, Deutsche Rechtsalterthiimer, 793, 822. 

3 E. g. When criminals were hanged with wolves or dogs, which at a 
later period was regarded as particularly ignominious. Grimm, D.R. A. 685. 
Criminals were buried in crossways, the old heathen offering-places, and 
the gallows stood at the intersection. Ib. 720, 683. In general, certain 
customs at executions, as dragging the criminal on a cowhide, are probably 
regarded as the more ignominious, because they were originally heathen. 



matters of warfare and the heathenism still practised in the 
field, the clergy were equally powerless. Hence the Chris 
tian Franks, as we have already seen, when they invaded 
Italy, sacrificed men, while such cruelty in ordinary life 
had long been abolished among them. Thus did much 
heathenism find its way back during the first Christian age, 
or maintained its ground still longer, because it was sanc 
tioned by law and usage. Where the converters in their 
blind zeal would make inroads into the social relations, the 
admission of Christianity met with many hindrances. The 
teaching of St. Kilian had found great favour with the 
Frankish duke Gozbert ; but when he censured that prince 
for having espoused a relation, he paid for his presumption 
with his life. Among the Saxons Christianity encountered 
such strong opposition, because with its adoption was con 
nected the loss of their old national constitution 1 . 

As the missionaries thus found themselves obliged to 
proceed with caution, and were unable to extirpate hea 
thenism at one effort, they frequently accommodated them 
selves so far to the heathen ideas as to seek to give them 
a Christian turn. Many instances of such accommoda 
tions can be adduced. On places, for instance, regarded 
by the heathen as sacred, Christian churches were con 
structed 2 , or, at least crosses there erected 3 , that they 

1 Miiller, p. 104. 

2 Vita S. Agili Resbac. in Act. Bened. sec. 2. p. 31 7; Vita S. Amandi, 
ib. p. 715 ; Vita Liudgeri ap. Pertz, n. p. 410; Gregor. M. Ep. ad Mel- 
litum (Beda, H. E. I. 30) : " Dicite ei (Augustino) quid diu mecura de 
causa Anglorum cogitans tractavi : videlicet, quia fana idolorum destrui 
in eadem gente minime dcbeant ; sed ea quae in ipsis sunt idola destru- 
antur ; aqua benedicta fiat, in eisdem fanis aspergatur, altaria construantur, 
reliquiae ponantur ; quia si fana eadem bene constructa sunt, necesse est ut 
a cult u daemonum in obsequium veri Dei debeant commutari, ut, dum gens 
ipsa eadem fana sua non videt destrui, de corde errorem deponat, et Deum 
verum cognoscens et adorans, ad loca quae consuevit familiarius concurrat." 

3 Mone, Gesch. des Heidenthums, ii. 52. Schreiber, die Feen in Eu- 
ropa, p. 18. 



might no longer be used for heathen worship, and that 
the" people might the more easily accustom themselves to 
regard them as holy in a Christian sense. The wood of 
the oak felled hy Boniface 1 was made into a pulpit, and 
of the gold of the Langobardish snake 2 altar-vessels were 
fabricated. Christian festivals were purposely appointed 
on days which had been kept as holy days by the hea 
thens ; or heathenish festivals, with the retention of some 
of their usages, were converted into Christian ones 3 . If, 
on the one side, through such compromises, entrance was 
gained for Christianity, so on the other they hindered the 
rapid and complete extirpation of heathenism, and occa 
sioned a mixture of heathenish ideas and usages with 
Christian ones 4 . 

To these circumstances it may be ascribed that hea 
thenism was never completely extirpated, that not only 
in the first centuries after the conversion, an extraordinary 
blending of heathenism and Christianity existed, but that 
even at the present day many traces of heathen notions 
and usages are to be found among the common people. 
As late as the twelfth century the clergy in Germany were 
still occupied in eradicating the remains of heathenism 5 . 

The missionaries saw in the heathen idols and in the 

i See page 257. 2 See page 262. 

3 In the letter just cited of Gregory it is further said : " Et quia boves 
solent in saerificio dsemonum multos occidere, debet eis etiam hac de re 
aliqua sollemnitas iramutari ; ut die dedications, vel natalitiis sanctorum 
martyrum, quorum illic reliquiae ponuntur, tabernacula sibi circa easdem 
ecclesias, quse ex fanis commutatse sunt, de ramis arborum faciant, et re- 
ligiosis conviviis sollemnitatem celebrent ; nee diabolo jam animalia immo- 
lent, sed ad laudem Dei in esu suo animalia occidant, et Donatori omnium 
de satietate sua gratias referant ; ut dum eis aliqua exterius gaudia reser- 
vantur, ad interiora gaudia consentire facilius valeant. Nam duris menti- 
bus simul omnia abscidere impossibile esse non dubium est ; quia et is, 
qui summum locum ascendere nititur, gradibus vel passibus, non autem 
saltibus elevatur." 

* Miiller, p. 106. 5 Ib. p. 108. 


adoration paid to them only a delusion of the devil, who, 
under their form, had seduced men to his worship, and 
even believed that the images of the gods and the sacred 
trees were possessed by the evil one. Thus they did not 
regard the heathen deities as so many perfect non-entities, 
but ascribed to them a real existence, and, to a certain 
degree, stood themselves in awe of them. Hence their 
religion was represented to the heathens as a work of the 
devil, and the new converts were, in the first place, required 
to renounce him and his service. In this manner the idea 
naturally impressed itself on the minds of the people that 
these gods were only so many devils ; and if any person, in 
the first period of Christianity, was brought to doubt the 
omnipotence of the God of the Christians, and relapsed 
into idolatry, the majority regarded such apostasy as a sub 
mission to the devil. Hence the numerous stories of com 
pacts with the evil one, at which the individual, who so 
devoted himself, must abjure his belief in God, Christ, and 
the Virgin Mary, precisely as the newly converted Chris 
tian renounced the devil. That the devil in such stories 
frequently stood in the place of a heathen god is evident 
from the circumstance, that offerings must be made to him 
in crossways, those ancient places of sacrifice 1 . 

But heathenism itself entertained the belief in certain 
beings hostile alike to gods and men, and at the same 
time possessed of extraordinary powers, on account of 
which their aid frequently appeared desirable. We shall 
presently see how in the Popular Tales the devil is often 
made to act the part which more genuine traditions assign 
to the giant race, and how he not unfrequently occupies 
the place of kind, beneficent spirits 2 . 

1 Miiller, p. 109. Hence the expressions " diabolo sacrificare," " dia- 
boli in amorem vinum bibere." A black hen was offered to the devil. 
See vol. iii. p. 256. Harrys, i. No. 55. Temme, Sagen Pommerns, No. 233 

2 Miiller, p. 110. 


Let it not excite surprise that, in the popular stories 
and popular belief, Christ and the saints are frequently set 
in the place of old mythologic beings l . Many a tradition, 
which in one place is related of a giant or the devil, is in 
another told of Christ, of Mary, or of some saint. As 
formerly the minne (memory, remembrance, love) of the 
gods was drunk 2 , so now a cup was emptied to the memory 
or love of Christ and the saints, as St. John s minne, Ger- 
trud s minne. And, as of old, in conjurations and various 
forms of spells, the heathen deities were invoked, so, after 
the conversion, Christ and the saints were called on. 
Several religious usages which were continued became in 
the popular creed attached to a feast-day or to a Christian 
saint, although they had formerly applied to a heathen 
divinity 3 . In like manner old heathen myths passed over 
to Christian saints 4 , some of which even in their later 
form sound heathenish enough, as that the soul, on the 
first night of its separation, comes to St. Gertrud. That 
in the period immediately following the conversion, the 
heathen worship of the dead was mingled with the Chris 
tian adoration of saints, we have already seen from the 
foregoing ; and the manner in which Clovis venerated St. 
Martin, shows that he regarded him more as a heathen 
god than as a Christian saint. It will excite little or no 
surprise that the scarcely converted king of the Franks 
sent to the tomb of the saint, as to an oracle, to learn the 

1 For instances see vol. iii. pp. 162-169, 171, 176-179. 

2 Goth, man (pi. munum, pret. munda), / think, remember, whence 
Ohg. minna = minia, amor ; minnon = minion, amare, to remember the 
beloved. In 0. Nor. there is man, munum, and also minni, memoria, 
minna, recordari. Grimm, D. M. p. 52, which see for further details. 

3 Instances are the fires kindled on St. John s day and the usages on 
St. Martin s day. See vol. iii. pp. 139, 142. 

4 A striking instance of this is the second Merseburg poem with its 
several parodies. See pp. 23, sq. 


issue of a war he had commenced against the Wisigoths ! , 
as similar transmutations of heathen soothsaying and 
drawing of lots into apparently Christian ceremonies are 
to be found elsewhere 2 . 

We will now add two instances, one of which will show 
how an individual mentioned in the New Testament has 
so passed into popular tradition as to completely occupy 
the place of a heathen goddess, while the other will make 
it evident how heathen forms of worship can, through 
various modifications, gradually assume a Christian cha 

Herodias is by Burchard of Worms 3 compared with 
Diana. The women believed that they made long journeys 
with her, on various animals, during the hours of the 
night, obeyed her as a mistress, and on certain nights were 
summoned to her service. According to Ratherius, bishop 
of Verona (ob. 974), it was believed that a third part of 
the world was delivered into her subjection 4 . The author 
of Reinardus informs us that she loved John the Baptist, 
but that her father, who disapproved of her love, caused 
the saint to be beheaded. The afflicted maiden had his 

1 Gregor, Tur. n. 37. 

2 Miiller, p. 110. Cone. Autissiod. a. 578, c. 3. " Non licet ad sor- 
tilegos vel ad auguria respicere ; nee ad sortes, quas sanctorum vocant, 
vel quas de ligno aut de pane faciunt, adspicere." According to the Lex 
Frisionura, Tit. 14, two little staves, one of which was marked with a 
cross, were laid on the altar or on a relic. A priest or an innocent boy 
took up one of them with prayer. 

3 10, 1. (from the Cone. Ancyran. a. 314) : " Illud etiam non omitten- 
dum, quod quaedam sceleratae mulieres, retro post Satanam converse, 
dsemonum illusionibus et phantasmatibus seductx, credunt se et profi- 
tentur nocturnis horis cum Diana, paganorum dea, vel cum Herodiade et 
innumera multitudine mulierum equitare super quasdam bestias, et 
multa terrarum spatia intempestse noctis silentio pertransire, ejusque jus- 
sionibus velut dominae obedire, et certis noctibus ad ejus servitium 

4 Opera, edit. Ballerini, p. 20. D. M. p. 260. 


head brought to her, but as she was covering it with tears 
and kisses, it raised itself in the air and blew the damsel 
back, so that from that time she hovers in the air. Only 
in the silent hours of night until cockcrowing has she 
rest, and sits then on oaks and hazels. Her sole consola 
tion is, that, under the name of Pharaildis, a third part of 
the world is in subjection to her *. 

That heathen religious usages gradually gave rise to 
Christian superstitions will appear from the following. It 
was a custom in the paganism both of Rome and Ger 
many to carry the image or symbol of a divinity round the 
fields, in order to render them fertile. At a later period the 
image of a saint or his symbol was borne about with the 
same object 2 . Thus in the Albthal, according to popular 
belief, the carrying about of St. Magnus 7 staff drove away 
the field mice. In the Freiburg territory the same staff 
was employed to extirpate the caterpillars 3 . 

Of all the divinities, of whom mention has been already 
made, Wodan alone appears to have survived in the north 

Lenit honor luctum, minuit reverentia poenam, 

Pars hominum mcestce tertia servit fierce. 
Quercubus et coryhs a noctis parte secunda 

Usque nigri ad galli carmina prima sedet. 
Nunc ea nomen habet Pharaildis, Herodias ante 

Saltria, nee subiens nee subeunda pari. 
Reinardus, i. 1159-1164. Muller, p. 112 ; Grimm, D. M. p. 262. 

2 Eccard, Franc. Orient, i. 437. 

3 Muller, p. 113. Act. Sanct. ii. p. 774. " In agrum Friburg, quod 
est in Brisgoia circumjectum, aliquot annis adeo copiosa saeviterque gras- 
sata erant insecta, ut vix jam herbas quid excresceret, sed omnia veluti 
nimiis solibus torrida ruberent. Motus diuturno hoc malo urbis ejus ma- 
gistratus enixe petiit, ut adversus diros vermes afferretur sacra cambatta. 
Quae ubi allata est a quodam S. Magni ccenobita, eaque campi prataque 
ilia lustrata, eodem adhuc anno, qui seculi hujus fuit xi (1711), tellus 
laeto herbarum vigore convestiri ; vermes pars migrare alio, pars emori. 
Ut tanti beneficii perennaret memoria, decreverere Friburgenses posthac 
natalem S. Magni habere sacrum et festum." Comp. Schreiber s Taschen- 
buch fiir Geschichte und Alterthum in Siiddeutschland, 1839, p. 329. 

N 5 


of Germany. From the following customs it will appear 
that he was regarded as a god, in whose hand rested the 
thriving of the fruits of the field. 

In Meklenburg it was formerly a custom at the rye- 
harvest to leave at the end of every field a little strip of 
grain unmowed; this with the ears the reapers plaited 
together and sprinkled it. They then walked round the 
bunch, took off their hats, raised their sithes, and called 
on Wodan thrice in the following verses : 

Wode, hale dynem rosse nu Wode, fetch now fodder for thy 

voder, horse, 

nu distel unde dorn, now thistles and thorn, 

thorn andren jahr beter korn ! for another year better corn ! 

The corn thus left standing for the horse of the god was a 
simple offering to the bestower of the harvest. At the 
mansions of the nobility and gentry, it was a custom, when 
the rye was cut, to give Wodel-beer. On a Wednesday 
people avoided all work in flax or sowing linseed, lest the 
horse of the god, who with his dogs was often heard in the 
fields, might tread it down } . 

With these customs a custom of the Mark may be com 
pared. In the neighbourhood of the former monastery of 
Diesdorf, during the whole rye-harvest, a bundle of ears 
is left standing in every field, which is called the Vergo- 
dendeel s Struus. When all is mowed, the people, in holy- 
day attire, proceed to the field with music, and bind this 
bundle round with a variegated riband, then leap over it and 
dance round it. Lastly the principal reaper cuts it with 
his sithe and throws it to the other sheaves. In like man 
ner they go from field to field, and finally return to the 
village singing : " Nun danket alle Gott," and then from 
farm to farm, at each of which some harvest lines are re 
peated^ The name of this harvest festival is Vergodendeel, 

1 Muller, p. 115. 


which is said to signify remuneration for the hard harvest- 
work, and is to be met with also in some of the neighbour 
ing villages. From among the several harvest-verses we 
select the following : 

Ich sage einen arndtekranz, I saw a harvest-garland, 

es ist aber ein Vergutentheils but it is a Vergutentheil s garland. 


Dieser kranz ist nicht von This garland is not of thistles and 

disteln und dornen, thorns, 

sondern von reinem auserlese- but from clean, selected winter- 

nem winterkorne, corn, 

es sind auch viele ahren darin ; there are also many ears therein ; 

so mannich ahr, so many ears, 

so mannich gut jahr, so many good years, 

so mannich korn so many corns, 

so mannich wispeln auf den so many wispels l for the master s 

wirth seinen born (boden) 2 . granary. 

As the resemblance between this custom and the Mek- 
lenburg one is obvious, the " Vergodendeels struus " may 
without hesitation be explained by Fro Goden deels struus, 
i. e. the strauss or wisp, which Fro (Lord) Wodan gets for 
his share 3 . Hence a similar harvest custom in Lower 
Saxony, at which Fru Gaue is invoked, may likewise refer 
to Wodan. When the reapers mow the rye, they leave 
some straws standing, twine flowers among them, and, 
after the completion of their labour, assemble round the 
wisp thus left standing, take hold of the ears and cry : 

Fru Gaue, haltet ju fauer, Fru Gaue, hold your fodder, 

diit jar up den wagen, this year on the wagon, 

dat andar jar up der kare. the next year on the cart. 

It will excite but little surprise that in the uncertainty of 

1 A wispel = 24 bushels. 

2 Miiller, p. 116. Kuhn, Mark. Sagen, p. VI, and p. 339. 

3 We must here bear in mind the dialectic form Gwodan (Goden}. On 
the Elbe Wodan is still called Fru Wod. Lisch, Meklenb. Jahrb. 2, 133. 


later popular tradition this appellation 1 has afterwards 
been attributed to a female divinity. 

The names of the other gods have passed out of the 
memory of the people. Of the worship of Donar (Thor) 
there is, perhaps, still a faint trace in the custom, that in 
Meklenburg the country people formerly thought it wrong 
to perform certain work on a Thursday, as hopping, etc. 2 

Of the goddesses, Wodan s wife, Frigg, was, till compa 
ratively recent times, still living in the popular traditions 
of Lower Saxony, under the name of Fru Frecke 3 , but 
now seems defunct. In the neighbourhood of Dent in 
Yorkshire the country people, at certain seasons, particu 
larly in autumn, have a procession, and perform old dances, 
one of which they call the giants dance. The principal 
giant they call Woden, and his wife Frigga. The chief 
feature of the spectacle is, that two swords are swung 
round the neck of a boy and struck together without 
hurting him 4 . 

But in the popular traditions of the Germans the me 
mory still lives of several female divinities, who do not 
appear in the Northern system. Goddesses can longer 
maintain themselves in the people s remembrance, because 
they have an importance for the contracted domestic circle. 
But their character, through length of time and Chris 
tianity, is so degraded, that they usually appear more as 
terrific, spectral beings than as goddesses. Whether their 
names even are correct, or have sprung out of mere 
secondary names or epithets, whether several, who appear 

1 Goth. Frauja, dominus, whence the modern feminines Fran, Fru, 
domina, lady. The masculine is no longer extant. 

2 Midler, p. 116. 

3 Eccard de Orig. Germ. p. 398 : " Celebratur in plebe Saxonica Fru 
Frecke, cui eadem rnunia tribuuntur, quae Superiores Saxones Holdas suae 

4 Grimm, D. M. p. 280, from a communication by Kemble. Miiller, 
p. 121. 



under various names, were not originally identical, a sup 
position rendered probable by a striking resemblance in 
the traditions, can no longer be decided. We can here 
only simply repeat what popular tradition relates of 
them 1 . 

FRAU HOLDA, or Holle, still survives in Thuringian and 
Hessian, as well as in Markish and Frankish tradition and 
story. The name of this goddess signifies either the kind 
(holde) or the dark, obscure 2 . She is represented as a being 
that directs the aerial phenomena, imparts fruitfulness to 
the earth, presides over rural labours and spinning. She 
appears likewise as a divinity connected with water, as she 
dwells in wells and ponds, and particularly in the Hol- 
lenteich (so called from her) in the Meissner. From her 
well children come, and women, who descend into it, 
become healthy and fruitful. But she also takes persons 
drowned to her, and is so far a goddess of the nether 
world, a circumstance that is alluded to in the tradition 
that she has her abode in mountains 3 , in which, as we 
shall see, the souls of the departed dwell. On account of 
these manifold and important functions, Holda, in the 
time of heathenism, must, no doubt, have been a divinity 
of high rank. Other traditions concerning her are more 
obscure and difficult to explain. Burchard of Worms 
(p. 194 a ) mentions, as a popular belief, that some women 
believed that on certain nights they rode with her on all 
kinds of animals, and belonged to her train, according to 
which she completely occupies the place of Diana and 
Herodias ; and it is still a popular belief in Thuringia, that 
the witches ride with the Hoik to the Horselberg, and 

1 Miiller, p. 121. 

2 The word is connected either with hold, propitious, kind, O. Nor. 
hollr, or with 0. Nor. hulda, obscurity, darkness. D. M. p. 249. 

3 E. g. in the Horselherg near Eisenach. See p. 243. 


that, like Wodan, she leads the Wild Host. It is also said 
that she has bristling, matted hair. 

This goddess had apparently two chief festivals, one in 
the twelve nights of Christmas, during which she makes 
her tour; the other at Shrovetide, when she returns 1 . 

FRAU BERCHTA is particularly at home among the 
Upper German races, in Austria, Bavaria, Swabia, Alsace, 
Switzerland, also in some districts of Thuringia and Fran- 
conia. She is even more degraded in popular story than 
Holda. She also appears in the twelve nights as a female 
with shaggy hair, to inspect the spinners, when fish and 
porridge (Brei) 2 are to be eaten in honour of her, and all 
the distaffs must be spun off. She is also the queen of 
the Heimchen (little elementary spirits), who by water 
ing the fields rendered the soil fertile, while she ploughed 
beneath the surface, and so far has claims to the character 
of an earth-goddess and promoter of the fertility of the 
land 3 . To those who mend her chariot she gives the chips 
by way of payment, which prove to be gold 4 . 

Between Berchta and Holle there is unquestionably a 
considerable resemblance, although their identity is ex 
tremely doubtful, as they apparently belong to different 
German races. The name of Berchta (Berhta, Perahta, 
Bertha) signifies resplendent, shining, with which the Welsh 
substantive berth, perfection, beauty, and the adjective 
berth, beautiful, rich, may be compared. As this goddess 
appears only in the south of Germany, it is a question 
whether she did not pass from the Kelts to the German 

1 Miiller, p. 122. For the Norwegian Huldra, or Hulla, see vol. ii. 
pp. 2, 10, 15. 

2 Of those who have eaten other food than her festival-dishes she rips 
open the bodies, takes out the forbidden viands, stuffs them with chaff, 
and sews them up again with a ploughshare and an iron chain. Grimm 
D. S. No. 268 ; Abergl. No. 525. 

3 Muller, p. 124. 4 Grimm, D. M. p. 252. 



races. We will not decide in the affirmative, though it is 
worthy of remark that the name enters also into French 
heroic lore. Bertha with the great foot, or with the goose s 
foot, was, according to tradition, the daughter of Flore and 
Blancheflor, the wife of Pepin and mother of Charles the 
Great. In France, too, the phrase the time when Bertha 
span is used to express days long since gone by. It was 
also customary to swear by the spinning-wheel of the reine 
pedauque l . 

In German tradition the name of Berchta is given to 
the so-called White Lady, who appears in many houses, 
when a member of the family is about to die, and, as we 
have seen, is thought to be the ancestress of the race. She 
is sometimes seen at night tending and nursing the chil 
dren, in which character she resembles the Keltic fairy. 
In other and more wide-spread traditions, the White Lady 
is an enchanted or spell-bound damsel, who usually every 
seventh year appears near some mountain or castle, points 
out treasures, and awaits her release 2 . Sometimes she is 
seen combing her long locks or drying flax-knots. Some 
pretend that, like Huldra, she is disfigured by a tail. She 
wears a white robe, or is clad half in white half in black ; 
her feet are concealed by yellow or green shoes. In her 
hand she usually carries a bunch of keys, sometimes 
flowers, or a golden spinning-wheel. These traditions 
evidently point to a goddess that possesses influence over 
life and death, and presides over domestic economy; al 
though the glimmering shed on her through the medium 

1 "Au temps que la reine Berthe filait;" in Italian, " n el tempo ove 
Berta filava," or, " non e piu il tempo che Berta filava." Comp. Alt- 
deutsche Walder, 3, 47, 48. Roman de Berte as Grans Pies, edit. P. Paris, 
pref. pp. in, iv. She is elsewhere called Frau " Precht mit der langen 
nas." See Grimm, D. M. pp. 250-260. 

2 She is also called Bertha. See in Harrys, i. No. 3, " Die schone Bertha 
von Schweckhauserberge." 


of popular tradition does not enable us to ascertain more 
of her nature 1 . 

In the traditions of the Altmark there lives another 
goddess FRAU HARKE, of whom it is related, that in the 
twelve nights of Christmas she passes through the country, 
and if by Twelfth-day the maids have not spun off all the 
flax, she either scratches them or befouls the spinning- 
wheel. Stories concerning her must formerly have been 
more numerous. Gobelinus Persona relates, that Frau 
Hera in the Twelfths flies through the air and bestows 
abundance 2 . As this account points to an earth-goddess, 
there seems no doubt that the Erce 3 , invoked as mother 
of earth in an Anglo- Saxon spell for the fertilizing of the 
land, is identical with her 4 . 

In German popular story other names are mentioned of 
female beings, but who are enveloped even in greater ob 
scurity than the before-mentioned. The WERRE, who is 
at home in Voigtland, inspects, like Frau Holle, the spin 
ners on Christmas eve, and, if all the distaffs are not spun 
off, befouls the flax. Like Berchta, she rips up the bodies 
of those who have not eaten porridge. The STEMPE 
tramples on those children who on New Year s day will 
not eat. The STRAGGELE appears in Lucerne the Wed 
nesday before Christmas, and teazes the maids, if they 
have not spun their daily task 5 . WANME THEKLA is in 

1 Miiller, p. 126. 

2 Cosmodrom. Act, vi. Meibom. Scriptt. Rer. Germ. i. p. 235 - - Inter 
festum Nativitatis Christ! ad festum Epiphani* Domini, domina Hera 
volat per aera. Dicebant vulgares pradicto tempore: Vrowe Hera seu 
corrupto nomine Vro Here de vlughet, et credebant illam sibi conferre 
rerum temporalium abundantiam." 

3 Thorpe, Analecta Anglo- Saxonica, p. 116, 2nd edit. Grimm D M 
p. cxxix. Erce, Erce, Erce, Erce, Erce, Erce, 

eorftan modor, etc. mother of earth, etc. 

4 Muller, p. 127. 

5 Grimm, D. M. pp. 251, 255 ; D. S. 269. 



the Netherlands the queen of the elves and witches 1 . This 
tradition is probably of Keltic origin, which may likewise 
be the case with the following one. DOMINA ABUNDIA, 
or DAME HABONDE, who is mentioned by Guilielmus Al 
vernus, bishop of Paris (ob. 1248) 2 , and who also figures 
in the Roman de la Rose 3 ,, is said, on certain nights, 
accompanied by other women, who are likewise styled 
Domina, and all clad in white 4 , to enter houses and par 
take of the viands placed for them. Their appearance in 
a house is a sign of good luck and prosperity. In these 
white-clad females we at once recognise the Keltic fairies. 
The name Habundia has no connection with the Latin 
abundantia, from which Guilielmus Alvernus would de 
rive it 5 . 

Together with Habundia Guilielmus Alvernus places 
SATIA, whose name he derives from satietas. The goddess 
BENSOZIA, whom Augerius episcopus Conseranus mentions 
as a being with whom, as with Herodias, Diana and Holda, 
the women were believed to ride at night, may be identical 
with her, and her name be only a fuller form of Satia 6 . 

The foregoing are the principal memorials of heathen 
divinities that have been preserved in Christian times. 
Together with them we find traces of that living concep 
tion of nature, which is perceptible among the Germans 
from the remotest period. The sun and moon were always 
regarded as personal beings, they were addressed as Frau 
and Herr (Domina and Dominus) 7 , and enjoyed a degree 
of veneration with genuflexions and other acts of adora 
tion 8 . To certain animals, as cats, the idea of something 

i See vol. iii. p. 265. 2 Opera, Paris, 1674, i. 1036, 1066, 1068. 

3 Edit. Meon, vv. 18622, sqq. 

4 Nymphse albze, domino bonse, dominje nocturnae. Wolf, Niederl, 
Sagen, No. 231. 

s Miiller, p. 129. 6 Ib. p. 130. 7 See page 5, note 2 . 

Vita Eligii, n. 16: Nullus dominos solem aut lunam vocet. Nic. 
Magni de Gawe de Superstitionibus (written in 1415: comp. D.M. 


ghostly and magical was attached; to others, as the cuckoo, 
was ascribed the gift of prophecy ; while others, as snakes, 
had influence on the happiness of men, or are accounted 
sacred and inviolable. Trees, also, even to a much later 
period, were regarded as animated beings, on which account 
they were addressed by the title of Frau ; or it was believed 
that personal beings dwelt in them, to whom a certain 
reverence was due 1 . 

Of processions and festivals, which have pretensions to 
a heathen origin, we can give only a brief notice. 

As, according to Tacitus, the goddess Nerthus was 
drawn in a carriage in a festive procession, through the 
several districts, so in Christian times, particularly during 
the spring, we meet with customs, a leading feature of 
which consists of a tour or procession. Such festive pro 
cessions are either through a town, or a village, or through 
several localities, or round the fields of a community, or 
about the mark or boundary. On these occasions a symbol 
was frequently carried about, either an animal having 
reference to some divinity, or else some utensil. A pro 
cession may here be cited which, in the year 1133, took 
place after a complete heathenish fashion, notwithstanding 
the strenuous opposition of the clergy. In the forest near 
In da 2 , a ship was constructed, and furnished beneath with 
wheels; this was drawn by weavers (compelled to the 
task), harnessed before it, through Aix-la-Chapelle, Mae- 
stricht, Tongres, Looz and other localities, was everywhere 
received with great joy, and attended by a multitude 

p. xliv): Itaque hodie inveniuntur homines qui cum novilunium 

primo viderint, flexis genibus adorant, vel deposito capucio vel pileo in- 
clinato capite honorant alloquendo et suscipiendo. Immo etiam plures 
jejunant ipso die novilunii. See also D. M. p. 668, and Abergl. No. 112 : 
" If a woman at going to bed salutes the stars of heaven, neither vulture 
nor hawk will take a chicken from her." 

1 See vol. ii. p. 168, and vol. iii. p. 182. Miiller, p. 130. 

2 Inden in the territory of Julich, afterwards Cornelimunster. 


singing and dancing. The celebration lasted for twelve 
days. Whosoever, excepting the weavers who drew the 
ship an office they regarded as ignominious touched 
the same, must give a pledge, or otherwise redeem him 
self 1 . This custom maintained itself to a much later 
period in Germany, as by a protocol of the council of Ulm, 
dated on the eve of St. Nicholas, 1330, the procession 
with a plough or a ship is prohibited. A connection 
between the above custom and the worship of the Isis of 
Tacitus, whose symbol was a ship, seems in a high degree 
probable ; it had, at least, reference to a goddess, as, ac 
cording to the original narrative, the women took part in 
it with bacchanalian wantonness 2 . 

Mention also occurs of a procession with a plough, about 
Shrovetide, in other parts of Germany, viz. on the Rhine, 
in Upper Saxony and Franconia, with the remarkable ad 
dition, that young unmarried women were either placed 
on the plough, or were compelled to draw it 3 . 

Another procession, called The driving, or carrying, out of 
Death (winter), took place formerly about Midlent, usually 
on the Sunday Latare (the fourth in Lent), and sometimes 
on the Sunday Oculi (the third in Lent), in Franconia and 
Thuringia, also in Meissen, Voigtland, Lusatia and Silesia. 
Children carried a figure of straw or wood, or a doll in a 
box, or stuck on a pole, through the place, singing all the 
time, then cast the figure into the water or burnt it. In 
its stead a fir-tree was brought back to the place. If the 
procession met any cattle on their return they beat them 

1 See a circumstantial account of this custom in Grimm, D. M. 
pp. 237, sqq. 

2 Miiller, p. 133. Rodolfi Chron. Abbatiaj S. Trudonis, lib. ix. 
fugitiva adhuc luce diei imminente lima, matronarum catervse abjecto 
femineo pudore audientes strepitum hujus vanitatis, sparsis capillis de 
stratis suis exiliebant, alia; semiimdae, alise simplice tantum clamide cir- 
cumdutse, chorosque ducentibus circa navim impudenter irrumpendo se 
admiscebant." 3 M " ller > P- 134 


with sticks, believing that they thereby rendered them 
fruitful 1 . 

In other places the beginning of the beautiful season is 
represented as the entrance of a benignant divinity into 
the country. In Thuringia, on the third day of Whitsun 
tide, a young peasant, called the green man, or lettuce-king, 
is in the forest enveloped in green boughs, placed on a 
horse, and amid rejoicings conducted into the village, 
where all the people are assembled. The Schulze (Bailiff 
or Mayor) must then guess thrice who is concealed under 
the green covering. If he does not guess, he must forfeit 
a quantity of beer; and even if he does guess, he must, 
nevertheless, give it. Of the same class is the procession 
of the Maigraf (Count of the May), (called also the King 
of the May, or King of Flowers], which formerly, usually 
on the first of May, took place with great rejoicings, not 
only in Lower Germany, but in Denmark 2 and Sweden. 
Attended by a considerable company, and adorned with 
flowers and garlands, the Count of the May paraded 
through the several districts, where he was received by 
the young girls, who danced round him, one of whom he 
chose for Queen of the May 3 . 

We shall conclude this sketch of the festive processions 
with a short notice of some other heathen customs. 

It is a wide-spread custom in Germany to kindle bon 
fires on certain days, viz. at Easter and St. John s (Mid 
summer) day, less usually at Christmas and Michaelmas. 
In Lower Germany the Easter-fires are the most usual, 
which are generally lighted on hills; while in the south 
of Germany the St. John s fires are the commonest, and 
were formerly kindled in the market-places, or before the 
gates of the town. The ceremonies connected with these 
fires are more and more forgotten. In former times old 
and young, high and low regarded the kindling of them 
1 Miiller, p. 135. 2 See vol> iL p 2 66. 3 Miiller, p. 139. 


as a great festival. These customs had apparently an 
agrarian object, as it is still believed that so far as the 
flame of the Easter-fire spreads its light will the earth be 
fertile and the corn thrive for that year. These fires, too, 
were, according to the old belief, beneficial for the pre 
servation of life and health to those who came in contact 
with the flame. On which account the people danced 
round the St. John s fire, or sprang over it, and drove 
their domestic animals through it. The coal and ashes of 
the Easter-fire were carefully collected and preserved as a 
remedy for diseases of the cattle. For a similar reason it 
was a custom to drive the cattle when sick over particular 
fires called need-fires (Notfeuer), which, with certain cere 
monies, were kindled by friction 1 ; on which account the 
St. John s fire is strictly to be regarded as a need-fire 
kindled at a fixed period. Fire is the sacred, purifying and 
propitiating element, which takes away all imperfections 2 . 
A similar salutiferous power is, according to the still ex 
isting popular belief, possessed by water, particularly when 

1 Indie. Superst. c. 15. De igne fricato de ligno. 

2 Miiller, p. 141. For details relating to these fires see Grimm, D.M. 
pp. 570-594. Particularly worthy of notice is the employment of a cart 
wheel, by the turning of which the need-fire is kindled. In some places, 
at the Easter-fire, a burning wheel is rolled down a hill. In the Mark a 
cart-wheel is set on fire and danced round. A wheel, too, is hung over 
the doors of the houses for the thriving of the cattle. Mark. Sagen, 
p. 362. Comp. Grimm, D. M. 1st edit. Abergl. "No. 307 : "Whoever puts 
a wheel over his doorway has luck in his house." This custom of kindling 
sacred fires on certain days prevails throughout almost the whole of 
Europe, and was known to Antiquity, particularly in Italy. The Kelts 
kindled such fires, on the first of May, to the god Deal (thence even now 
called beaUine), and on the first of November to the god Sighe. Leo, 
Malb. Gl. i. 33. But whether the need-fire is of Keltic origin remains a 
doubt. " The fires lighted by the [Scottish] Highlanders on the first of 
May, in compliance with a custom derived from the pagan times, are 
termed the Beltane-Tree, It is a festival celebrated with various super 
stitious rites, both in the north of Scotland and in Wales." Scott s Min 
strelsy, iii. p. 324. 


drawn in silence on certain holyday nights, as St. John s 
or Christmas, from certain springs that were formerly 
sacred to some divinity. To wash in such water imparts 
health and beauty for the whole year l . 

On Death, and the condition of souls after death, a 
few words are necessary. Even in Christian ideas of 
hell, the remains of pagan belief are here and there dis 
cernible. Among these may be reckoned that the devil 
has his habitation in the north 2 , as in the Scandinavian 
belief the nether world lies in the north. According to 
some traditions, the entrance to hell leads, through long, 
subterranean passages, to a gate ; in the innermost space 
lies the devil fast bound, as Utgarthilocus is chained in 
the lower world 3 . According to another tradition, the 
emperor Charles, when conducted to hell by an angel, 
passed through deep dells full of fiery springs, as, accord 
ing to the Scandinavian belief, the way to Hel s abode led 
through deep valleys, in the midst of which is the spring 
Hvergelmir 4 . The popular tales also relate how a water 
must be passed before arriving at Hell 5 . 

According to all appearance, the idea was very general 
in the popular belief of Scandinavia, that the souls of the 
departed dwelt in the interior of mountains. This idea 
at least very frequently presents itself in the Icelandic 
Sagas, and must have been wide-spread, as it is retained 
even in Germany to the present day. Of some German 
mountains it is believed that they are the abodes of the 
damned. One of these is the Horselberg near Eisenach, 
which is the habitation of Frau Holle ; another is the 
fabulous Venusberg, in which the Tanhauser sojourns, 
and before which the trusty Eckhart sits as a warning 

1 Miiller, p. 143. 2 Caedmon, p. 3. 1. 8. 

3 Saxo, p. 431, edit. Miiller. See pp. 12, 13. 

5 Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 29. Miiller, p. 389. 


guardian l . Of other mountains it is also related that 
heroes of ancient times have been carried into them. 
Thus the emperor Frederic Barbarossa sits in the Kyf- 
hauser at a stone table ; his beard has already grown twice 
round the table ; when it has grown thrice round he will 
awake 2 . The emperor Charles sits in the Odenberg, or 
in the Unterberg 3 , and an emperor not named, in the 
Guckenberg near Frankishgemiinden 4 . 

Almost all the descriptions of the sojourn of souls after 
death have this in common, that the nether world was 
thought to be in the bowels of the earth, that is, in the 
interior of mountains or at the bottom of waters, and that 
its aspect was that of a spacious habitation, in which a 
divine being received the departed. That it was, at the 
same time, also a belief that the dead in their graves, in a 
certain manner, continued to live, that they were contented 
or sad, and heard the voices of those who called a sub 
ject to which we shall presently return is strictly in 
contradiction to the other ideas; but, in the first place, 
heathenism easily tolerated such inconsistencies, and, 
secondly, the depth of the grave became confounded with 
the nether world in the bowels of the earth. Thus while, 

1 The relationship of the traditions of Frau Venus and Holda is indu 
bitable. The Venusberg is considered by some as identical with the 
Horselberg, in which Frau Holle holds her court. Before the Venusberg 

according to the preface to the Heldenbuch sits the trusty Eckhard, 

and warns people; as he also rides and warns before the Wild Hunt. 
Grimm, D. S. No. 7. The tradition of the Venusberg first appears in 
monuments of the fourteenth century. 

2 Grimm, D. S. Nos. 23, 296. Comp. Bechstein, Thiir. Sagenschatz, 4, 
9-54. See also vol. iii. pp. 101, sq. According to another tradition, the 
emperor Frederic sits in a rocky cavern near Kaiserslautern. 

3 Grimm, D. S. Nos. 26, 28. Mones Anzeiger, 4. 409. Of Wedekind 
also it is said that he sits in a mountain, called Die Babilonie, in West 
phalia, until his time comes. Redecker, Westf. Sagen, No, 21. Similar 
traditions are in D. S. Nos. 106, 207, and in Mones Anzeiger, 5, 174. 

4 Miiller, p. 396. 



on the one hand, it was thought that the dead preserved 
their old bodily aspect, and appeared just as when they 
sojourned on earth, although the freshness of life had de 
parted ; on the other hand there is no lack of passages, 
according to which a particular form is ascribed to the 
soul when separated from its body l . 

As mountains, according to the heathen popular belief, 
were supposed to be the sojourns of the dead, so it was 
imagined that in the bottom of wells and ponds there was 
a place for the reception of departed souls. But this be 
lief had special reference to the souls of the drowned, who 
came to the dwelling of the Nix, or of the sea-goddess 
Ran. The depths of the water were, however, at the same 
time, conceived in a more general sense, as the nether 
world itself. For which reasons persons who otherwise, 
according to the popular traditions, are conveyed away 
into mountains, are also supposed to be dwelling in wells 
and ponds 2 ; and the numerous tales current throughout 
the whole of Germany of towns and castles that have been 
sunk in the water, and are sometimes to be discerned at 
the bottom, are probably connected with this idea. It is 
particularly worthy of notice that beautiful gardens have 
been imagined to exist under the water 3 . Yet more wide 
spread is the tradition that green meadows exist under 
water, in which souls have their abode 4 . In an old Ger 
man poem it is said that these meadows are closed against 
suicides 5 , according to which they would appear to be a 
detached portion of the nether world 6 . 

1 Muller, p. 401. 

2 Thus the emperor Charles is said to sojourn in a well at Nuremberg 
D. S. No. 22. 

3 Thus Frau Holla has a garden under her pool or well, from which she 
distributes all kinds of fruits. L). S. No. 4. Comp. 13, 291, and K and 
H. M. No. 24. 

4 Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 61. Wolf, Niederl. Sagen, No. 506. 

5 Flore, 19 b . e Muller, p. 399. 


The soul was supposed to bear the form of a bird. Even 
in Ssemund s Edda it is said, that in the nether world 
singed birds fly that had been souls l , and in the popular 
tales similar ideas occur frequently. The ghost of the 
murdered mother comes swimming in the form of a duck, 
or the soul sits in the form of a bird on the grave ; the 
young murdered brother mounts up as a little bird, and 
the girl, when thrown into the water, rises in the air as a 
white duck 2 . The frequent conjurations into swans, 
doves and ravens 3 originate in the same ideas : these 
birds are the souls of the murdered, a belief which the 
popular tale ingeniously softening, represents merely as a 
transformation. With this belief the superstition must 
be placed in connection, that, when a person dies, the 
windows should be opened, that the departing soul may 
fly out 4 . 

From the popular traditions we also learn that the soul 
has the form of a snake. It is related that out of the 
mouth of a sleeping person a snake creeps and goes a long 
distance, and that what it sees or suffers on its way, the 
sleeper dreams of 5 . If it is prevented from returning, the 

1 Fra bvi er at segja, Of that is to be told, 

hvat ek fyrst um sa, what I first observed, 

)>a ek var kvolheima kominn : wben I had come into the land of 

torment : 

svtfSnir fuglar, singed birds, 

er salir yam, that had been souls, 

flugu sva margir sem my. flew as many as gnats. 

SolarljoS Str. 53. 

It is however to be remarked that the Solarljdft is a Christian poem, 
though composed at a period when heathenism still prevailed in the North. 
Grimm, K. and H. M. Nos. 11, 13, 21, 47, 96, 135. 

3 Ib. Nos. 9, 25, 49, 93, 123, pp. 103, 221. 

4 Miiller, p. 402 ; Grimm, D. M. 1st edit. Abergl. Nos. 191, 664 Kuhn 
Mark. Sagen, p. 367. 

5 When the grave of Charles Martel was opened, a large snake was 
found in it; such at least is the story, which, moreover, tells us that 


person dies. According to other traditions and tales, it 
would seem that the soul was thought to have the form 
of a flower, as a lily or a white rose 1 . 

These ideas may be regarded as the relics of a belief in 
the transmigration of souls, according to which the soul, 
after its separation from the body, passes into that of an 
animal, or even an inanimate object. More symbolic is 
the belief that the soul appears as a light. Hence the 
popular superstition that the ignes fatui, which appear by 
night in swampy places, are the souls of the dead. Men, 
who during life have fraudulently removed landmarks, 
must, after death, wander about as ignes fatuij or in a 
fiery form 2 . 

having exhausted his treasures, he gave the tenth, which was the due of 
the clergy, to his knights to enable them to live. The story of the snake 
was told by St. Eucherius, bishop of Orleans. See Wolf, Niederl. Sagen, 
No. 68. Other traditions tell that the soul proceeds from the mouth of a 
sleeping person in the form of a butterfly, a weasel or mouse. D. S. 
Nos. 247, 255 ; D. M. pp. 789, 1036. Goethe alludes to a similar super 
stition in Faust : 

Ach ! mitten im Gesange sprang Ah ! in the midst of her song 
Bin rothes Mauschen ihr aus A red mousekin sprang out of her 
dem Munde. mouth. 

1 See vol. iii. p. 271. Grimm, K. and H. M. Nos. 9, 85. The popular 
tales tell also of persons transformed into lilies or other flowers. K. and 
H. M. Nos. 56, 76. On the chair of those that will soon die a white rose 
or lily appears. D. S. Nos. 263, 264 ; Harrys, i. p. 76. From the grave 
of one unjustly executed white lilies spring as a token of his innocence ; 
from that of a maiden, three lilies, which no one save her lover may gather ; 
from the mounds of lovers flowery shrubs spring, which entwine together. 
Also in the Swedish ballads lilies and limes grow out of graves. In the 
Scottish ballad of Fair Margaret and Sweet William it is said : 

Out of her breast there sprang a rose, 

And out of his a Iriar ; 

They grew till they grew unto the church-top, 

And there they tied in a true lovers knot. 

See also the story of Axel and Valdborg in vol. ii. p. 46, where the trees 
are the ash. 

2 Muller, p. 404. See instances of this superstition in vols. ii. and iii. 


According to a well-known popular tale, there is a sub 
terranean cavern, in which innumerable lights burn : these 
are the life-tapers of mortals. When a light is burnt out, 
the life of the person to whom it belonged is at an end, 
and he is the property of Death l . 

How do the souls of the departed arrive at their des 
tined abode ? German tradition assigns the office of re 
ceiving the souls of mortals at their death to dwarfs. 
Middle High German poems, and also the belief still 
existing among the people, regard Death as a person, 
under various names, who when their hour arrives, con 
ducts mortals away by the hand, on a level road, dances 
with them 2 , sets them on his horse, receives them in his 
train, invites them to his dwelling, lays them in chains, or 
which is probably a later idea fights with them, and 
with spear, dart, sword or sithe, slays them 3 . 

In some parts of Germany it is a custom to place a 
piece of money in the mouth of a corpse 4 , probably to 
pay the passage-money, or defray the expenses of the 
journey 5 . 

As the dead in the nether world continue their former 
course of life 6 , it naturally follows that they are not 

1 See K. and H. M. No. 44. Muller, p. 404. The same idea is con 
tained in the popular superstitions. On Christmas eve the light may not be 
extinguished, else some one will die. Grinim, A^ergl. Nos. 421, 468. In 
the Albthal, on a wedding-day, during the service, a triple twisted taper 
is borne by each of the bridal party : the person whose taper is first 
burnt out will be the first to die. Schreiber s Taschenbuch, 1839, p. 325. 

2 According to the preface to the Heldenbuch, a dwarf fetches Dietrich 
of Bern with the words : " Thou shalt go with me, thy kingdom is no more 
in this world." According to Christian ideas, angels or devils receive the 
departed souls, an office particularly assigned to Michael. 

3 The dance of death cannot, however, be traced farther back than the 
fifteenth century. Muller, p. 405. 

4 Grimm, D. M. 1st edit. Abergl. No. 207. Mark. Sagen, Nos. 19, 30. 

5 Muller, p. 408. 

6 Many of the German popular stories make the dead to appear as they 

O 2 


wholly estranged from earthly life. No oblivious draught 
has been given them, but the remembrance of their earthly 
doings cleaves to them. Hence they gladly see again the 
places frequented by them while on earth but they are par 
ticularly disquieted when anything still attaches them to 
earthly life. A buried treasure allows them no rest until 
it is raised T ; an unfinished work, an unfulfilled promise 
forces them back to the upper world 2 . 

In like manner the dead attach themselves to their 
kindred and friends. Hence the belief is very general 
that they will return to their home and visit them, and 
that they sympathize with their lot 3 . Thus a mother re 
turns to the upper world to tend her forsaken children 4 , 
or children at their parents grave find aid, who, as higher 
powers, grant them what they wish 5 . Slain warriors also 
rise again to help their comrades to victory 6% . But it dis 
turbs the repose of the dead when they are too much wept 

were in life and to follow the same pursuits. In ruined castles, knights 
in their ancient costume hold tournaments and sit at the joyous feast ; the 
priest reads mass, the wild huntsman and the robber continue their handi 
work after death. D. S. Nos. 527, 828 ; Niederl. Sagen, Nos. 422, 424, 
425 ; Mones Anzeiger, 4. 307 ; Harrys, i. No. 51 et alibi. 

1 Grimm, Abergl. No. 606, comp. 207, 588. 

2 Miiller, p. 410. 

3 In the neighbourhood of Courtrai it is a custom, when conveying a 
corpse to the churchyard, to repeat a Pater noster at every crossway, that 
the dead, when he wishes to return home, may be able to find the way. 
Niederl. Sagen, No. 317. The dead usually re-appear on the ninth day. 
Grimm, Abergl. No. 856. According to the Eyrb. Saga, c. 54, the dead 
come to their funeral feast. 

4 For a mother that has died in childbirth the bed is to be made during 
six weeks, that she may lie in it when she comes to give her child the 
breast. Niederl. Sagen, No. 326. 

5 Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 21. Comp. Hervarar Saga and Udvalgte 
Danske Viser, i. p. 253. 

6 Grimm, D. S. No. 327. Comp. Wunderhorn, i. 73, 74. The dead 
also wreak vengeance. Niederl. Sagen, No. 312. It is an old belief that 
if a person is murdered on Allhallows day, he can have no rest in the 
grave until he has taken revenge on his murderer. Ib. No. 323, 


for and mourned after. Every tear falls into their coffin 
and torments them ; in which case they will rise up and 
implore those they have left behind to cease their lamen 
tation 1 . 

1 Miiller, p. 412. Grimm, K. and H. M. No. 109. This belief is feel 
ingly expressed in the old Danish ballad of Aage and Else : 

Hver en Gang Du glaedes, Every time thou rt joyful, 

Og i Din Hu er glad, And in thy mind art glad, 

Da er min Grav forinden Then is my grave within 

Omhaengt med Rosens Blad. Hung round with roses leaves. 

Hver Gang Du Dig graminer, Every time thou grievest, 

Og i Din Hu er mod, And in thy mind art sad, 

Da er min Kiste forinden Then is within my coffin 

Som fuld med levret Blod. As if full of clotted blood. 

Udvalgte Danske Viser, i. p. 211. 



See Oegir. 

^Eitri. See Sindri. 

^Emilias, a smith, 88. 

^Esir, preside over Asgard, 11 ; ride 
over Bifrost, 12 ; make war with 
the Vanir, 14 ; make peace with 
them, ib. 

Agnar.son of Hrodung, account of, 17. 

Aki murders Heimir, 111. 

Alf marries Hiordis, 94. 

Alfar. See Elves. 

Alfheim, Frey s abode, 25, 130, 152. 

Alfheim, a district of Norway, 123. 

Alf rig, a dwarf, 32, n. 3 . 

Alfo-Sr. See All-father and Odin. 

All, son of Loki. See Vali. 

All-father, among the Frost-giants, 4 ; 
pledges his eye to Mimir, 12 ; myth 
of, explained, 140. See Odin. 

Alsvith, a horse of the Sun, 6, 144. 

Alswith, son of Heimir, 98. 

Alvit, wife of Volund, 85. 

Amsvartriir, a lake, 51, 184. 

Anar, a husband of Night, 5, 143. 

Andhrimnir, the cook in Valhall, 20. 

Andlang, 11, 152. 

Andvari, a dwarf, his treasure and 
ring taken by Loki, 95 ; his ring 
given by Sigurd to Bryuhild, 99, 

Angeia, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 
Angurboda, 31 ; her offspring, 49 ; 

her name explained, 184. 
Arvakur, a horse of the Sun, 6, 144. 
Asa-Loki. See Loki. 
Asbru. See Bifrost. 
Asgard, description of, 11. 
Ask, the first man, 10. 
Aslaug or Kraka, Sigurd and Bryn- 

hild s daughter, 101 ; saved by 

Heimir, 111 ; married to Ragnar, 


Atla, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 
Atli (Attila), brother of Brynhild, 

100; marries Gudrun, 103, 104; 

invites the Giukings, 104 ; murders 

them, 105 ; murdered, 106. 
And, the son of Night, 5, 143. 
Audhumla, 4, 140. 
Auku-Thor, a name of Thor, 22, 173. 
Aurboda, a giantess, mother of Gerd, 

46, 198. 

Aurgelmir, 3, 4, 140. See Ymir. 
Aurgiafa, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 
Aurvangur, 9. 
Austri, 5, 151. 


Baldur, Odin s son, 22; his beauty, 
and plants named after him, 22 and 
note " ; his abode, 23 ; account of 
his death and funeral, 72-74 ; sends 
the ring Draupnir to Odin, 76; 



will return, 83, 84 ; myth of, ex 
plained, 185, 186. 

Barri, wood of, 49, 198. 

Baugi, a giant, brother of Suttung, 
42; his name explained, 192. 

Bekhild, Brynhild s sister, 98. 

Beli, slain by Frey, 25, 49. 

Bergelmir, 4, 140. 

Berling, a dwarf, 32 n. 3 . 

Bestla (Belsta), 4, 141. 

Beyggvir, Frey s servant, 27, 198. 

Beyla, Frey s servant, 27, 198. 

Biflidi, a name of Odin, 15, note 5 . 

Bifrdst, the rainbow, 11 ; the JEsir 
ride over it, 12 ; will break, 81 ; 
explanation of, 201. 

Biki, his treachery, 107. 

Bil, a child in the moon, 6 ; reckoned 
among the goddesses, 36. 

Bilskirnir, Thor s mansion, described, 
21, 172. 

Blakulla, theSwedishBlocksberg,21 8. 

Blikianda-bol, Hel s curtains, 50. 

Bo (Bous) Odin s son by Rinda, 170. 

Bodn, name of a vessel, 40, 192. 

Borghild, mother of Helgi Hundings- 
bani, 93 ; poisons Sinfiotli, 94. 

Bodvildi, daughter of Nidud, 86. 

Bolthorn, a giant, 4, 141. 

Bolverk, a name assumed by Odin, 42. 

Bor, father of Odin, 4, 141. 

Bragafull (Bragi-cup), 190. 

Bragi, account of, 28, 189, 190. 

Bredi, a thrall, 91. 

Breidablik, Baldur s abode, 23, 130, 

Brirair, a hall in heaven, 82. 

Brisinga-men, 32 ; lent by Freyia to 
Loki, 55. 

Brock, a dwarf, 38, sqq., 182. 

Brunnakr, Idun s abode, 34, 191. 

Brynhild, account of, 97 ; instructs 
Sigurd, ib. ; engages to marry Si 
gurd, 99 ; foretells Gudrun s des 
tiny, ib. ; married to Gunnar, 100, 
101 ; quarrels with Gudrun, ib. ; 
her death and funeral, 103. 

Budli, father of Atli and Bryuhild, 
100, 101. 

Buri, grandfather of Odin, 4, 141. 

Byleist, brother of Loki, 30; his 
name explained, 182. 

Byrgir, name of a well, 6. 


Caul, superstition connected with 

Creation, 4 ; illustration of, 138. 


Dagr, day, birth of, 5, 6 ; his horse, 
Dain, a dwarf, 33. 
Dain, a hart, 13, 151, 155. 
Dark-elves (Dockalfar). See Elves 
Darrad, spectacle seen by him, 156 
Delling, the husband of Night, 6. 
Dis, an attendant spirit, 113, 116. 
Disa and Disa-blot, 209. 
Draug, a spectre, 113, 117. 
Draupnir, a ring, 38, 39 ; laid 

Baldur s pile, 75. 
Dromi, name of a chain, 50, 184. 
Drb sul, the horse of Day, 6. 
Dunneyr, a hart, 13, 155. 
Durathror, a hart, 13, 155. 
Durin, a dwarf, 9, 150. 
Dvalin, a dwarf, 12, 32 w. 3 , 150, If 
Dvalin, a hart, 13, 155. 
Dwarfs, their creation, 9 ; myth 

explained, 144, 150. 


Earth, the daughter of Night a 
Anar, 6 ; description of, 10 ; rec 
oned a goddess, 36. 

Eddas, account of, 132, and note. 

Egdir, an eagle, 78. 

Egil Skallagrirasson, sets up a nil 
stake, 219. 

Egil, Volund s brother, 84 ; his f< 
of archery, 89. 

Eikthyrnir, name of a hart, 20, 2 
the name explained, 162. 

Einheriar, the slain in battle, receiv 
into Valhall and Vingolf, 15 ; th 
employment, 20 ; will go foi 
armed at Ragnarock, 81. 

Eir, the best leech, 35. 

Eldhrimnir, the kettle in Valhall, . 

Eldir, Forniot s servant, 27, 200. 

Elgia, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 

Eliudnir, the hall of Hel, 50. 

Elivagar, 3. 

Elli, her wrestling with Thor, 63. 



Elves, 25 and w. 5 , 147, 150. 
Embla, the first woman, 10. 
Erp, son of Jonakur and Gudrun, 106 ; 
his death, 107. 


Fafnir son of Hreidraar, 95 ; robbed 
of his hoard, and slain by Sigurd, 

Falhofnir, a horse, 12. 

Fallanda forat, Hel s threshold, 50. 

Farbauti, father of Loki, 30 ; his name 
explained, 182. 

Fenia, a slave, 207. 

Fenrir, Wolf, 31, 49; chained, 50; 
bites off Ty s hand, 52 ; will break 
loose at Ragnarock, 80, 81 ; will 
swallow Odin, 82 ; his death, ib. ; 
the volcanic fire, 184. 

Fensalir, Frigg s abode, 32, 73. 

Fialar, a cock, 78. 

Fialar, a dwarf, slays Kvasir, 40 ; in 
vites and slays Gilling and his wife, 
41 ; gives the precious mead to 
Suttung, ib. 

Fimafeng, Forniot s servant, 27, 200. 

Fimbul, a river, 3, note l . 

Fimbul-winter, 80. 

Fiolnir,a name of Odin, 15, note 5 , 83. 

Fiorgvin, the earth, and mother of 
Thor, 21. 

Fiorgynn, father of Frigg, 170. 

Fiorm, a river, 3, note 1 . 

Fiorsvartnir, the horse of Night, 6, 

Fofnir. See Fafnir. 

Folkvang, Freyia s abode, 32, 130, 196. 

Forniot, a giant, 27. 

Forseti, account of, 30, 186, 188. 

Forvnia. 1 v . . 

Folgie. J^Fylgia. 

Franangur s fors, a waterfall, 77, 183. 

Freki, one of Odin s wolves, 21. 

Frey given as a hostage to the .sir, 
15 ; his birth and attributes, 25 ; 
his ship, Skidbladnir, and hog, 
Gullinbursti, 38, 39 ; his love for 
Gerd, 46 ; gives his sword to Skir- 
nir, 47, 49 ; slain by Surt, 79, 81 ; 
myth of, explained, 196. 

Frey, a king, 209. 

Freyia, given as a hostage to the ^Esir, 

15 ; account of, 32, and n. 3 mar 
ried to Od, 33 ; lends her plumage 
to Loki, 44 ; lends her plumage and 
the Brisinga-men to Loki, 54, 55 ; 
myth of, explained, 196, 199. 

Frigg, Odin s wife, 16; account of, 
31, and n. l ; myth of, explained, 
167, 168. 

Frigg s rok, the constellation Orion, 
167, note. 

Frodi, King, 207. 

Frost-giants, 3; their dwelling, 11 ; 
myth of, explained, 140, 148. 

Fulla, Frigg s attendant, 35, 168. 

Fylgia, an attendant spirit, 113, 114, 


Galar, a dwarf, slays Kvasir, 40 ; in 
vites and slays Gilling and his wife, 
41 ; gives the precious mead to 
Suttung, ib. 

Galder, a species of magic, 212. 

Gang, brother of Thiassi, 45, 182. 

Ganglati, Hel s servant, 50. 

Ganglot, Hel s female servant, 50. 

Gangrad. See Odin. 

Gardarofa, a horse, 35, 169. 

Garm, a dog at Ragnarock, 78, 8] ; 
slain by Ty, 81. 

Gefion, account of, 34 and n. 6 . 

Gefn, a name of Freyia, 34. 

Geirrod, account of, 17 ; visited by 
Odin, 18; his death, 19. 

Geirrod, a giant, catches Loki, 52 ; is 
killed by Thor, 54 ; his name ex 
plained, 178. 

Geir-Skogul, a Valkyria, 14. 

Gelgia, name of a chain, 52. 

Gerd, Frey s love for, 46 ; myth of, 
explained, 167, 196. 

Geri, one of Odin s wolves, 21. 

Gevar, story of, from Saxo, 187. 

Giallar-bru, 75, 188. 

Giallar-horn, 12, 29. 

Gialp, Geirrod s daughter, causes the 
river Vimur to swell, 53 ; her back 
broken, 54. 

Gialp, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 

Giants, 10 ; described, 148. 

Gilling, a giant, 41 ; his death, ib. ; 
his name explained, 192. 



Gils, a horse, 12. 

Gimli, 11, 82, 152. 

Ginnunga-gap, 3, 4. 

Gioll (Giallar-horn), 12, 29. 

Gioll, a river, 3, note J , 75 ; explained, 

154, 157. 

Gioll, name of a rock, 52. 
Giuki, father of Gunnar, &c., 99. 
Glad, a horse, 12. 
Glad, the horse of Day, 6, 143. 
Gladsheim, Odin s abode, 11,19,130, 


Glasir, a wood, description of, 20. 
Glaurnvor, Gunnar s wife, her dream, 

Gleipnir, a chain, of what composed, 

51, 184. 

Glen, husband of Sol, the sun, 6, 144. 
Gler, a horse, 12. 

Glitnir, Forseti s abode, 30, 130, 189. 
Gna, Frigg s attendant, 35, 168. 
Gnipa s cave, 78, 81, 185. 
Goa or Goa, 209. 
Godheim, 152. 
Gondul, a Valkyria, 14. 
Gram, Sigurd s sword, 98, 100, 102. 
Grani, Sigurd s horse, 95, 100; 

mourns for his master, 103. 
Greip, Geirrod s daughter, her back 

broken, 54. 

Greip, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 
Grer, a dwarf, 32, w. 3 . 
Grid, mother of Vidar, 29, 53, 178. 
Gridarvbll, name of a staff, 53, 178. 
Grima, wife of Aki, 110. 
Grimhild, mother of Gudrun, 99, 100, 


Grimnir. See Odin. 
Griotunagard, 70, 176. 
Groa, endeavours to extract the stone 

from Thor s forehead, 7 1 . 
Grottasavngr, account of the, 207. 
Gudbrand, 90. 

Gudrun, daughter of Giuki, 99 ; her 
dream, ib. ; married to Sigurd, 100 ; 
quarrels with Brynhild, 101 ; flees 
to Denmark, 103 ; married to Atli, 
103, 104 ; warns her brother a- 
gainst Atli, ib. ; murders her sons, 
106 ; murders Atli, ib. ; marries 
King Jonakur, ib. 

Gullfaxi, name of Hrungnir s horse, 
69, 71. 

Gullinbursti, Frey and Freyia s hog, 

26, 33, 39, 199. 
Gullintanni, a name of Heimdall, 29, 


Gulltopp, Heimdall s horse, 12, 29. 
Gullveig burnt, 14 ; explanation of, 


Gungnir, Odin s spear, 39. 
Gunn, a Valkyria, 14. 
Gunnar, brother of Gudrun, 99 ; mar 
ries Brynhild, 100, 101 ; visits Atli, 

104; his death, 105. 
Gunnlod, Suttung s daughter, has 

charge of his mead, 41 ; lets Odin 

drink it, 42; myth of, explained, 

167, 191, 192. 
Gunnthra, a river, 3. 
Guttorm, brother of Gudrun, 99 ; 

murders Sigurd, 102 ; his death, 


Gygr, 149. 
Gylfi, a king of Sweden, 34, w. 6 ; his 

journey to Asgard, 132, note, 145. 
Gyllir, a horse, 12. 
Gymir, a giant, father of Gerd, 46, 



Hakon Jarl, sacrifices his son, 90. 
Hallinskeidi, a name of Heimdall, 29, 

Halogi, 27, note*-, father of Thor- 

gerd Horgabrud and Irpa, 90. 
Ham, "I an attendant spirit, 113, 
Hamingia,J 114,115. 
Hamdir, son of Jonakur and Gudrun, 

106 ; murders Erp, 107 ; slays Jor- 

munrek, 108 ; his death, ib. 
Hamhlaup described, 216. 
Hamskerpir, 1 a horse> 35, i 69 . 
Hamskerpnir, J 
Hanga-gud,l Qf 16< 

Hanga-tyr, J 

Hans Dihneke, a star, 177. 

Har, 19, 145. 

Hati, a wolf, 7 ; will pursue the moon 

78, 80. 

Heidi, a name of Gullveig, 14, 158. 
Heidrun, the goat in Valliall, 20 ; th< 

name explained, 162. 
Heimdall, account of, 28 ; contendec 

with Loki for the Brisinga-men, 29 



will blow his horn at Ragnarb ck, 
79, 81; will slay and be slain by 
Loki, 82 ; myth of, explained, 200 ; 
descends as Rig, 202, and note. 

Heimir married to Brynhild s sister, 
98, 101 ; saves Aslaug in a harp, 
110; his death, 111. 

Hel, the goddess of the dead, her 
abode, 11 ; daughter of Loki, 31, 
49 ; cast into Niflheim, 50 ; de 
scription of, ib. ; will not release 
Baldur, 76. 

Helblindi, brother of Loki, 30, 182. 

Helgi Hundingsbani, 93. 

Heligoland, why so called, 30, note 4 . 

Heraud, jarl of Gothland, father of 
Thora, 108. 

Herian, a name of Odin, 16. 

Hermod, Odin s son and attendant, 
21 ; his journey to Hel, 74, 75. 

Hervor Alvit, a Valkyria, 85. 

Hialli, name of a thrall, 105. 

Hialmgunnar, slain by Brynhild, 97. 

Hialprek, king of Denmark, 94, 103. 

Hild, a Valkyria, 14. 

Hildisvini. See Gullinbursti. 

Hildolf, a son of Odin, 31. 

Himinbiorg,Heimdairs abode, 29, 130. 

Himinbriot, name of an ox, 66. 

Hiordis, mother of Sigurd, her story, 

Hiuki (Hviki), a child in the moon, 6, 

Hladgun Svanhvit, a Valkyria, 85. 

Hler, son of Forniot, 27, 199. 

Hlidskialf, Odin s throne, 11 ; Frey 
sits in, 46 ; the name explained, 

Hlin, a goddess, 35, 79, 168. 

Hlodyn, the earth, and mother of 
Thor, 21 and note 2 , 170. 

Hlora, Thor s foster-child, 22. 

Hlorridi, a name of Thor, 21, 54, 56, 

Illb dver, a king, 85. 

Hnikar, a name of Odin, 15, note 5 , 96. 

Hnitbiorg, a mountain, 41. 

linos, daughter of Freyia, 33, 197. 

Hodbrod, son of Granmar, 94. 

Hoddmimir, 158. 

Hoddmimir s holt, 84, 158. 

Hcenir, with Odin and Lodur, creates 
mankind, 10; given as a hostage 
to the Vanir, 15; his adventure 

with Thiassi, 43 ; will receive of 
ferings, 83 ; his adventure with 
the otter, 95 ; myth of, explained, 

Hofvarpnir, a horse, 35, 168. 

Horg or Temple, 212. 

Hod (Hb dur), account of, 29 ; slays 
Baldur, 74 ; is slain by Vali, 76 ; 
will return, 83, 84 ; his name ex 
plained, 187. 

Hogni, brother of Gudrun, 99 ; visits 
Atli, 104 ; his death, 105. 

Hogni, father of Sigrun, 94. 

Horn, a name of Freyia, 34. 

Hrsesvelg, a giant, 7, 144, 182. 

Hrafna-gud, a name of Odin, 19. 

Hreidmar, his story, 95-96. 

Hrimfaxi, the horse of Night, 6, 143. 

Hrimgrimnir, a giant, 49. 

Hrimnir, a giant, 92. 

Hrimbursar. See Frost-giants. 

Hringhorni, Baldur s ship, 75. 

Hrith, a river, 3, note l . 

Hrodvitnir, 7, 78. 

Hroptatyr, a name of Odin, 161. 

Hrodung, a king, father of Geirrod 
and Agnar, 17. 

Hrungnir, a giant, his adventure with 
Odin, 69; slain by Thor, 70, 71; 
myth of, explained, 171, 172, 174, 

Hrym, a giant at Ragnarock, 79, 81. 

Hugi, his race with Thialfi, 61. 

Hugin, one of Odin s ravens, 19. 

Hunding, a king, 93. 

Hungr, Hel s dish, 50. 

Hvedrung, a name of Loki, 182. 

Hveralund, 184. 

Hvergelmir, 3; where situated, 12; 
serpents in, 13 ; rivers flow from. 
21 ; described, 83. 

Hviki. See Hiuki. 

Hymir, a giant visited by Thor, 65, 
67 ; myth of, explained, 174. 

Hyrrockin, a giantess, 75. 

I. J. 

Ida s plain, 8; myth of,explained, 145. 
Idi, brother of Thiassi, 45, 182. 
Idun, account of, 34 ; abduction and 

restoration of, 43 ; insulted by Loki, 

189 ; myth of, 190. 




Ifing, name of a river, 1 1 ; explained, 

153, 154. 

Irpa, worshiped in Norway, 90. 
Ivald, father of Idun, 34. 
Ivaldi, sons of, make the ship Skid- 

bladnir and Sif s golden hair, 38, 


ISavollr. See Ida s plain. 
Jafnhar, 19, 145. 
Jarnsaxa, a mother of Heimdall, 28, 


Jarnvid, a wood, 7. 
Jarnvids, giantesses, 7, 149. 
Jonakur, marries Gudrun, 106. 
Jormungand. See Midgard s Serpent. 
Jormunrek, marries Svanhild, 106 ; 

murders her and his son, 107 ; his 

death, 108. 
Joruvellir, 9, 150. 
J6r$. See Earth. 

Jftuuheira, } 10 152 ^Giants. 
Jule-tungel, 208. 


Kari, son of Forniot, 27. 

Kerlaugs, the two, name of rivers, 

12, 163. 

Kiar, king of Valland, 85. 
Kostbera, Hiigni s wife, her dreams, 


K6r, Hel s bed, 50. 
Kormt, a river, 12, 163. 
Kraka. See Aslaug. 
Kvasir, a Van, 15 ; an As, 77. 
Kvasir, his creation and death, 40 ; 

myth of, explained, 191. 


Ladgun. See Svanhvit. 

Lading, name of a chain, 50, 184. 

Lasrad. See Lerad. 

Land-vaett, a tutelary genius, 117. 

Landvidi, Vidar s abode, 30, 130, 193. 

Laufey, mother of Loki, 30 ; her name 

explained, 182. 
Leipt, a river, 3, note l ; explanation 

of, 157. 
Lerad, a tree over Odin s hall, 20, 21, 

Lettfeti, a horse, 12. 

Lif, 84. 

Lifthrasir, 84. 

Light-elves (Liosalfar), 25, and note 5 . 

Lingi, a king, 94. 

Lios-alfheim, 152. 

Liot, a witch, 217. 

Litur, a dwarf, 75, 188. 

Lodur, with Odin and Hoenir, creates 
mankind, 10 ; myth of, explained, 

Lofar, progenitor of the dwarfs, 9, 

Lofn, a goddess, 35. 

Logi, his contest with Loki, 60. 

Logi, 27, and note 5 . See Halogi. 

Loki, contends with Heimdall for the 
Brisinga-rnen, 29 ; account of, 30 ; 
assumes the likeness of a mare, and 
gives birth to Sleipnir, 37; cuts 
Sif s hair off, 38 ; his wager with 
the dwarf Brock, ib.\ his adventure 
with Thiassi, 43 ; entices Idun from 
Asgard, and brings her back, 44 ; 
causes Skadi to laugh, 45 ; his off 
spring, 49 ; caught by Geirrod, 52 ; 
accompanies Thor to Geirrod s 
house, 53; aids in recovering Thor s 
hammer, 54-56 ; accompanies Thor 
to Utgarda-Loki, 56-65; his adven 
ture there, 60 ; contrives Baldur s 
death, 73 ; escape, capture and 
punishment of, 77 ; will steer the 
ship Naglfar at Ragnarock, 79; 
will slay and be slain by Heimdall, 
82 ; his adventure with the otter, 
95 ; myth of, explained, 180, 181. 

Lopt. See Loki. 

Lyngvi, an island, 51, 184. 


Magni, Thor s son, 22, 71 ; will pos 
sess Miolnir after Ragnarock, 84 ; 
name explained, 177. 

Managarm, a wolf, 7, 78, 80. 

Manheim, 152. 

Mani (See Moon) directs the moon s 
course, 6 ; takes up two children, 

Mardoll, a name of Freyia, 34. 

Megingjardar, Thor s belt of power, 
22, 53, 173. 

Meili, a son of Odin, 31. 



Menia, a slave, 207. 

Midgard, 5 ; description of, 11. 

Midgard s Serpent (Jormungand), 31 , 
49 ; cast into the ocean, 50 ; in the 
likeness of a cat lifted by Thor, 62 ; 
is caught by Thor, 66, 68 ; at Rag 
narock, 79, 81 ; myth of, explained, 

Midwinter sacrifice, 208. 

Mimameiffr, 157. 

Mimir, his well, 12 ; drinks from the 
horn Gioll, id, ; sent with Hoenir to 
the Vanir, 15 ; slain, ib. ; of his 
head, ib. ; his fountain explained, 
154; of his myth, 157. 

Mimir, a smith, 88. 

MiotvrSr (Miotuftr), a tree, 79, 157. 

Miolnir, the name of Thor s hammer, 
22 ; its origin, 39 ; stolen by the 
giant Thrym and recovered, 54-56 ; 
will be possessed by Modi and Mag- 
ni after Ragnarock, 84 ; the name 
explained, 171, 173. 

Modgud, guardian of the bridge over 
Gioll, 75, 188. 

Modi, Thor s son, 22 ; will possess 
Miolnir after Ragnarock, 84 ; name 
explained, 177. 

Modsognir, a dwarf, 9, 150. 

Moon, his origin, 6 ; followed by a 
wolf, 7; man in the, 143, and note 5 . 

Mountain-ash, 211. 

Mockurkalfi, a giant, 70 ; slain by 
Thialfi, 71 ; name explained, 177. 

Mundilfori, father of Sun and Moon, 
6, 143. 

Munin, one of Odin s ravens, 19. 

Muspellheim, 3 ; sparks from, 5 ; ex 
plained, 139. 

Myrkheim, 152. 

Mysing, a sea-king, 207. 


Nabhi, a dwarf, 33. 

Naglfar, the ship at Ragnarock, 79, 

80 ; of what composed, ib. 
Naglfari, a husband of Night, 5, 143. 
Ml. See Laufey. 
Nanna, Baldur s wife, 30, 34 ; her 

death, 75 ; sends her veil to Frigg, 

and her ring to Fulla, 76 ; myth of. 

explained, 185, 186. 

Narfi. See Norvi. 

Nari (Narvi), son of Loki, 31 ; his 

death, 78, 183. 
Nastrond, 82. 
Needle-trees, 182, note 2 . 
Nep (Nef), father of Nanna, 31, 187. 
Nida-fells, 82, 83. 
Nidhogg, a serpent, gnaws Yggdrasil s 

root, 12; sucks dead bodies, 83; 

will bear dead carcases on his wings, 

ib. ; its name, 155. 
Nidud, king of the Niarer, 85 ; ham- 

strings Volund, 86. 
Nidung, a king of Thy, 88. 
Niflheim, 3, 139, 152. 
Niflung, Hogni s son, murders Atli, 

Night (Nott), 5 ; married to Naglfari, 

ib. ; to Anar, ib. ; to Belling, 6 : 

her horse, ib. ; myth of, explained, 

Niord given to the ^Esir as a hostage, 

14 ; his abode and attributes, 24 ; 

his marriage with Skadi, 45 ; myth 

of, explained, 195. 
Nith, a kind of magic, 219. 
Nithi, the waning moon, 5. 
Noatun, Niord s abode, 24, 45, 130. 
Norns, their names, 12; functions, ib.; 

dogs, ib. ; water the ash Yggdrasil, 

13 ; myth of, explained, 156. 
Northri, 5, 151. 
Nott. See Night. 
Norvi, the father of Night, 5. 
Nyi, the new moon, 5. 


Od, Freyia s husband, 33, 197. 

Odhraerir, name of a kettle, 40, 192. 

Odin, his birth, 4 ; with his brothers 
creates the earth, ocean, &c., ib, ; 
also the heavenly bodies, 5 ; with 
Hoenir and Lodur creates mankind, 
10 ; with Vili and Ve creates man 
kind, ib. , casts a spear and excites 
war among men, 14 ; enchants Mi- 
mir s head, 15 ; his names, ib. ; 
under the name of Gangrad visits 
Vafthrudnir, 16 ; under the name 
of Grimnir goes to Geirrod, 17, 18 ; 
as Vegtam consults a deadVala, 19 ; 
of his ravens, Hugin and Munin , 



ib. ; lives solely on wine, 21 ; the 
jarls that fall belong to him, 22 ; 
foster-brother of Loki, 31 ; drinks 
daily with Saga, 34 ; of his horse, 
Sleipnir, 36 ; of his spear and ring, 
39; gets Suttung s mead, 41 ; works 
for Baugi under the name of B61- 
verk, ib. ; his flight from Suttung, 
42 ; his adventure with Thiassi, 
43 ; makes stars of Thiassi s eyes, 
45 ; his adventure with the giant 
Hrungnir, 69 ; goes down to 11 el 
to consult a dead Vala, 72 ; will 
consult Mimir s head at Ragnarock, 
79,81 ; will fight with Fenrir-wolf, 
81 ; be swallowed by him, 82 ; 
visits Siggeir, 92 ; fights against 
Sigmund, 94 ; aids Sigurd to find 
out Grani, 95 ; kills Ottur and pays 
the mulct, ib. ; appears as Hnikar 
to Sigurd, 96 ; drinks of Mimir s 
fountain, 154 ; myth of, explained, 
158, 161 ; appears to King Olaf 
Tryggvason, 160 ; modern belief 
concerning him and his horse, 164 ; 
story of him and Rinda, 169 ; his ob 
taining Suttung s mead explained, 
191. See also All-father. 

(Egir, son of Forniot,27; visited by the 
Jisir, 67 ; myth of, explained, 199. 

Okolni, 82. 

Olaf, King St., Thor his prototype, 
21, note 3 . 

Olaf Tryggvason, Odin appears to, 
160; Thor appears to, 176. 

Oiler, myth of, from Saxo, 179. 

Omi, a name of Odin, 15, note 5 . 

Onar. See Anar. 

Oski, a name of Odin, 15, note 5 . 

Ottur, son of Hreidmar, his death, 95. 

Oku-Thor, a name of Thor, 22, 173. 

Olrun, a Valkyria, 85. 

Ondurgud and Ondurdis, names of 
Skadi, 46. 

6 rint, a river, 12, 163. 

Orvar.dil, a giant, 71 ; a star made of 
his toe, 72, 177. 

Osten, a king at Upsala, 113. 


Phol, 23, note. 

Plants. Thorhialm (aconite), Sw. 
stormhat, 22, note l ; Baldur s brow, 
what plants so called, ib. note 2 ; 
Niar Sar vottr (Niord s glove, spon- 
gia marina, our Lady s hand, &c.), 
25, n. 2 ; Forneotes folme (Forniot s 
hand), 28, n. 2 ; Tysved (daphne 
mezereon), 28, n. 4 ; Loki s oats 
(polytrichum commune), 30, n. 6 ; 
Loki s purse (yellow rattle, rhinan- 
thus crista galli), ib. ; Freyju har 
(supercilium Veneris), 34, n. l ; Sif- 
jar haddr (polytrichum aureum), 
34, n. 3 , 179 ; Sorb-tree, proverb of, 
53 ; Tysfiola (viola Martis) ; Tyr- 
hialm (aconitum, monk s-hood), 
Dan. Troldhat; Tyviftr, Dan. Ty- 
ved (daphne mezereon, spurge lau 
rel), 167, note ; Friggjar-gras, hjo- 
na-gras (orchis odoratissima, mar 
riage grass), 167, note ; Quicken 
tree, or Mountain-ash, 211. 


Quicken Tree, 211. 


Ragnar (Lodbrok), slays a dragon, 
108 ; marries Thora, 109 ; marries 
Aslaug, 111-113. 

Ragnarock described, 78-83, 205. 

Ran, wife of Forniot, 27, 199. 

Randve, son of Jormunrek, 106; his 
death, 107. 

Ratatbsk, a squirrel, 13, 155. 

Rati, an auger, 42, 193. 

Regin, Sigurd s instructor, 95; his 
parentage, ib. ; forges a sword for 
Sigurd, 96; drinks Fafnir s blood 
and cuts out his heart, ib. 

Rerir, father of Volsung, 91. 

Rig, Heimdall visits the earth under 
the name of, 202, and note. 

Rind, mother of Vali, 36 ; meaning of 
name, 168; story of, from Saxo, 169. 

Rithil, name of a sword, 97. 

Roster, a name assumed by Odin, 169. 

Rostiophus Finnicus, 169. 

Roskva, 22 ; taken into Thor s ser 
vice, and attends him to Jotunheim, 
57, 173. 

Rutheni, king of the, 169. 



Saeg, name of a bucket, 6. 

Saehrimnir, name of a hog that is 
boiled every day for the Einheriar, 

Saga, account of, 34, 191. 

Salar-Steinn, 9. 

Seeland, origin of, 34, n. 6 . 

Seid, a species of magic, 14, 212. 

Seier-fotJr, a name of Odin, 16. 

Sessrymnir, Freyia s hall, 32, 196. 

Sid-hat, a name of Odin, 16. 

Sid-skegg, a name of Odin, 16. 

Sif, Thor s wife, 22 ; account of, 34 ; 
her hair cut off by Loki, 38 ; her 
golden hair,ib.; myth of, explained, 

Sig-foftr, a name of Odin, 16. 

Siggeir, a king in Gothland, 92. 

Sigi, progenitor of the Volsungs, 91. 

Sigmund, father of Sigurd, his story, 

Signi, daughter of Volsung. her storv, 

Sigrun, married to Helgi, 94. 

Sigtrud, King, 209. 

Sigurd, his birth, 95 ; instructed by 
Regin, ib. ; obtains Grani, ib. ; 
visits Grip, 96; acquires the lan 
guage of birds, 97 ; avenges his fa 
ther s death, ib. ; slays Fafnir, ib. ; 
meets with Brynhild, ib. ; descrip 
tion of, 98 ; visits Heimir, ib. ; en 
gages to marry Brynhild, 99 ; mar 
ries Gudrun, 1*00 ; murdered, 102. 

Sigyn, wife of Loki, 31 ; attends him 
during his punishment, 78 ; her 
name explained, 184. 

Silfrintop, a horse, 12. 

Simul, name of a pole, 6. 

Sindri, a hall, 82. 

Sindri (/Eitri), precious things made 
by, 38, 182. 

Sindur, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 

Sinfiotli, son of Sigmund and Signi, 
his story, 93, 94. 

Sinir, a horse, 12. 

Siofn, a goddess, 35. 

Siustin, 209. 

Siva, a goddess, described, 179. 

Skadi, daughter of Thiassi, marries 
Nib rd, 45 ; runs on snow-skates, 

46 ; hangs a snake over Loki s head, 
78, 183 ; myth of, explained, 195. 

Skates, bones used for, 179,180, and 
note 1 . 

Skeidbrimir, a horse, 12. 

Skidbladnir, the ship of the gods, of 
its construction, 38, 39, 199. 

Skinfaxi, the horse of Day, 6, 143. 

Skirnir, Frey s servant, 27 ; his visit 
to Gerd, 46; goes to Svart-Alfheim, 
51 ; myth of, explained, 196. 

Skofnung, name of a sword, 219. 

Skogul, a Valkyria, 14. 

Skoll, a wolf, 6 ; will pursue the sun, 
78, 80. 

Skrymir (Skrymnir), Utgarda-Loki 
under the name of, his adventure 
with Thor, 57-59 ; his name ex 
plained, 178. 

Skulld, a Norn, 12, and Valkyria, 14. 

Slagfin, Volund s brother, 84. 

Sleep-thorn, 97. 

Sleipnir, Odin s horse, 12 ; his origin, 
36 ; myth of, explained, 163. 

Slid, a river, 3, note l , 83. 

Snotra, a goddess, 36. 

Sol. See Sun. 

Solblindi, 157. 

Son, name of a vessel, 40, 192. 

Sorb-tree, 53. 

S6ckquabek,Saga sabode,34,130,191. 

Sorli, son of Jonakur and Gudrun, 
106 ; murders Erp, 107 ; slays Jor- 
munrek, 108 ; his death, ib. 

Sullt, Hel s knife, 50. 

Summer (Sumar), his father, 7. 

Sun, 5 ; her origin, 6 ; marriage, ib. ; 
horses, ib. ; followed by a wolf, ib. ; 
reckoned among the goddesses, 36 ; 
her daughter, 84. 

Surt, 3, 4 ; will come forth at Rag- 
narb ck, 79, 81 ; will slay Frey, ib. ; 
will burn the universe, 82 ; name 
explained, 139. 

Suthri, 5, 151. 

Suttung, obtains the precious mead, 
41 ; his name explained, 192. 

Svadilfori, name of a horse, 36 ; il 
lustration of, 164. 

Svalin, a shield before the Sun, 6. 

Svanhild, daughter of Sigurd and Gud 
run, married to Jormunrek, 106 ; 
her death, 107. 



Svanhvit, a Valkyria, 85. 

Svart-alfheim, 152. 

Svasud, father of Summer, 7, 144. 

Svavl, a river, 3. 

Swans fed in the well of Urd, 14. 

Svefn-J>orn, 97. 

Sylg, a river, 3. 

Syn, a goddess, 36. 

Syr, a name of Freyia, 34. 


Tanngniost, one of Thor s goats, 22, 

Tanngrisnir, one of Thor s goats, 22, 

Thialfi, 22 ; taken into Thor s service 
and attends him to Jotunheiin, 51 ; 
his adventure there, GO; slays Mb ck- 
urkalfi, 71 ; myth of, explained, 

Thiassi, a giant, his adventure, under 
the form of an eagle, with Odin, 
Loki and Hoenir, 43 ; gets posses 
sion of Idun, 44 ; his death, ib. ; 
his eyes made into stars, 45 ; name 
of, explained, 182. 

Thiodreyrir, a dwarf, 161. 

Thor, his parentage, 21 ; habitation, 
ib. ; prototype of St. Olaf, 21, note 3 ; 
his several names, 21, 22; his goats, 
ib. ; his hammer, belt and gloves, 
ib. ; the thralls belong to him, ib. ; 
his sons, wife and daughter, ib. ; 
servants, ib. ; foster-children, ib. ; 
slays the builder, 37 ; his hammer, 
39 ; enticed by Loki to Geirrod s 
house, 52 ; kills the giant Geirrod, 
54 ; loss and recovery of his ham 
mer, 54-56 ; his visit to Utgarda- 
Loki, 56-65 ; visits the giant Hy- 
mir, 65 ; catches the Midgard s 
serpent, 66 ; with Ty visits Hymir, 
67 ; goes with him to fish aud 
catches the Midgard s serpent, 68 ; 
carries off Hymir s kettle, ib. ; slays 
and is wounded by Hrungnir, 71 ; 
catches Loki in the form of a sal 
mon, 77 ; slays and is slain by the 
Midgard s serpent, 79, 81 ; myth 
of, explained, 171; modern tradi 
tion of, 174 ; appears to King Olaf 
Tryggvason, 176. 

I Thor s realm, 21, 172. 

Thora, daughter of Hakon, 103. 

Thora Biorgar-hjort, daughter of He- 
raud, 108 ; married to Ragnar 
Lodbrok, 109 ; her death, ib. 

Thorbiorg, a Vala, 214. 

Thorgerd Horgabrud, worshiped in 
Norway, 90 ; aids Hakon Jarl, ib. 

Thorsmanad, 208. 

Thokt, a giantess, 76 ; myth of, ex 
plained, 188. 

Thrithi, 19, 145. 

Thrud, Thor s daughter, 22, 34, 177. 

Thrudgelmir, 4, 140. 



Thrym, a giant, steals Thor s ham 
mer, his death, 54-56 ; his sister, 
56; his name explained, 178. 

Thrymgioll, 157. 

Thrymheim, Thiassi and Skadi s 
abode, 45, 130, 196. 

Thul, a river, 3, note. 

Thund, name of a river, 20. 

Thurs, name explained, 148. 

Thusbet, an evil spirit, 115. 

Thviti, name of a rock, 52. 

Troms, the Norwegian Blocksberg, 

Ty (Tyr), account of, 28 ; loses his 
hand, 52 ; accompanies Thor to 
the giant Hymir s, 67 ; his death, 
81 ; his myth, 166, 167. 


Ukko-Taran, the Finnish name of 
Thor, 173. 

Ulfliot, the first lawgiver of Iceland, 

Ulfrun, a mother of Heimdall, 28. 

Ull, account of, 30 ; myth of, explain 
ed, 179. 

Urd, fountain of, 12 ; swans in, 13 ; 
explained, 154. 

Urd, a Norn, 12. 

Utgard. See Jb tunheim. 

Utgarda-Loki, visited by Thor and 
Loki, 56-65. 


Vadi, father of Velint, 88. 
Vatt, a tutelary genius, 113, 116. 



Vafthrudnir, a giant visited by Odin, 

Vala, a prophetess, 214. 

Valaskialf, Vali s abode, 11, 130 ; the 
name explained, 161. 

Valfather, a name of Odin, 15, 16. 

Valfreyia. See Freyia. 

Val grind, a fence round Valhall, 20. 

Valhall, those that fall in battle re 
ceived into, 15 ; description of, 19. 

Vali, account of, 30; avenges the 
death of Baldur, 76 ; will live after 
Ragnarock, 84 ; of his name, 187. 

Vali (Ali), son of Loki, 31 ; his death, 
78, 183. 

Valkyriur come to the aid of the gods, 
14 ; their names, ib. ; wait upon 
the Einheriar, 20 ; their myth, 156 ; 
description of, 163. 

Vana-dis, an appellation of Freyia, 32. 

Vanaheim, 152. 

Vanargand, a name of Fenrir, 52. 

Vanir anticipate war with the JEsir, 
14 ; make peace, ib. ; slay Mimir, 
15 ; rule over air and sea, 147, 150. 

Vardogl, an attendant spirit, 113, 115, 

Vartari, a thong, 40 ; name explained, 

Ve, 4 ; with Odin creates mankind, 
10 ; brother of Odin, marries Frigg, 
32 ; myth of, 145. 

Vecha, a name assumed by Odin, 170. 

Vedurfolnir, a hawk, 13. 

Vegtam, a name assumed by Odin. 

Velint, his Saga, 88 ; hamstringed, 
89 ; violates Nidung s daughter and 
murders his sons, ib. See Vdlund. 

Veor (Vor), a name of Thor, 173. 

Vera-tyr, a name of Odin, 16. 

Verdandi, a Norn, 12. 

Vestri, 5, 151. 

Vetur. See Winter. 

Vidar, account of, 29 ; will slay the 
wolf Fenrir, 79, 82 ; will live after 

Ragnarock, 84 ; myth of, explained, 

Vidblain, 11, 152. 

Vidfinn, father of Bil and Hiuki, 6. 

Vigrid, name of a plain, 81. 

Vili, 4 ; with Odin creates mankind, 
10 ; brother of Odin, marries Frigg, 
32 ; myth of, 145. 

Vilkinus, father of Vadi, 88. 

Vimur, name of a river, 53. 

Vindheim, 83, 152. 

Vindsval, father of Winter, 7, 144. 

Vingi, Atli s messenger, 104 ; falsifies 
Gudrun s runes, ib.; his death, 105. 

Vingnir, Thor s foster-child, 22. 

Vingolf, 8, 11 ; those that fall in bat 
tle received into, 15. 


Vith, a river, 3, note 1 . 

Von, a river issuing from the mouth 
of Fenrir, 52, 184. 

Volsung, account of, 92. 

Volund, his Saga, 84 ; hamstringed, 
86 ; kills Nidud s sons, ib. ; violates 
his daughter, 87. See Velint. 

Vor, a goddess, 35. 


Winter, his father, 7. 
Wudga, 90, note l . 


Ydalir, Ull s abode, 30. 
Year, of the old Northern, 128-130. 
Ygg, a name of Odin, 154, note 2 . 
Yggdrasil, description of, 11 ; an eagle 

in its branches, 13 ; explained, 154, 

and note 2 . 

Ylg, a river, 3, note l . 
Ymir, birth of, 3 ; slain, 4 ; the earth, 

&c. formed of his body, 5 ; myth 

of, explained, 140, 141. 
Yule-beer, 208. 
Yule-month, 208. 




Diar, 230. 

Gu^, 241. 

Dickkopfs, 237. 

Gylfi, 230. 

Abundia, 281. 

Domen, 243. 

Adalbert, 267, n. 1 . 

Donar, 230, 276. 


Asaheim, 229. 
Aurelia (St.), 266. 

Dovrefield, 243. 
Dwarfs, 236-239. 

Habonde, 281. 
Harke (Fran), 280. 



Hel, 1 227 n 

Baldur, 231. 

Easter fires, 284. 

Hell, 286. 

Barenton, 247, n. l . 

Eastre, 227, n. 

Hen (Black) offered 1 

Beal, 285, n. 2 . 

Ecke, 234. 

the devil, 270. 

Bealtine, "1 2g5 w2 . 

Eckhart, 286. 

Hera (Fran), 280. 

Bealtane-tree, J 

Erbsenmuhme, 250. 

Herodias, 272. 

Bechelsberg, \ 9 ,o 
Bechtelsberg, J * 

Erce, 280. 

Heuberg, 243. 
Hild, 241. 

Bensozia, 281. 


Hlodyn, 232. 

Berchta "1 <- 

Hludana, 232. 

Bertha 1 

Fairies, 240. 

Holdal Fran, 277, 27 

Bilsen-schnitter, 245. 

Fasolt, 234. 

Holle J 286, 28 7, n. 

Bilwiz, 244. 

Forest-men, "1 2 51 252 

Holde, 244. 

Bischenberg, 243. 

Forest-wives, J 

Holzleute, 250. 

Blakulla, 243. 

Forseti, 231. 

Horselberg, 243, 286. 

Blocksberg, 243. 
Blood-tree, 256. 

Fosite, 231, 257, w. 2 , 
259, n. 4 , 265, w. 1 . 

I. J. 

Brocken, 243. 

Frea, 231. 

Brunnenholde, 244. 
Biichelberg, 243. 
Bulwechs, 244. 

Frecke (Fru), 276. 
Frederic Barbarossa,287. 
Frigg, 231, 276. 

Idisi, 241. 
Idols, 260-263. 
Indiculus Superstit 


Frua, 231. 
Fulla, 231. 

num, 232. 
Inselberg, 243. 

John Baptist (St.), 2! 



John s (St.) day, 2 

Cats, 281. 

Gall (St.), 266. 

fires, ib. 

Changelings, 237. 
Charles (Emperor), 287. 

Gaue (Fru), 275. 
George (St.), 228, n. 
Gertrud s (St.) Minne, 

Jiidel, 245. 



Giants, 234. 

Kandel, 243. 

Death, 286, 289-292. 

Gozbert, 268. 

Kiarru, 243. 

Death, driving out of, 

Green Man, 284. 
Groves, 255. 

Kielkropfs, 237. 
Kilian (St.), 268. 

Diana, 272, 

Guckenberg, 287. 

King of the May, 284 



Kobolds, 253. 

Pilwiz, 1 244 

Tremsemutter, 249. 

Kornweib, 249. 

Pilewis, .M 44 

Troins, 243. 

Koterberg, 243. 

Pipen (Brod), 252, 

Tuesday, several names 

Kreidenberg, 243. 

Prayers, 263. 

of, 231, n. 1 . 

Kyfhauser, 287, 

Processions, 282. 

Tuisco, 232. 

Ty, 227, n., 231. 




Lettuce-king, 284. 

Queen of the May, 284. 

Long Woman, 250. 

Unterberg, 287, 

Lyderhorn, 243. 


Urd (UrSr), 239. 

Ran, 288. 



Roggenraohme, 250. 

Magnus (St.), 273. 

Rural-sprite, 249. 

Vardo, 243. 

Mannus, 232. 

Ve, 230. 

Mary (Virgin), 227, n. 
May, king and queen of, 

Sacrifices, 264. 

Venusberg, 286, 287, n. 1 . 
Vergodendeel, 1 274, 
Vergutentheil, J" 275. 

Mermeut, 234. 

Satia, 281. 

Vili, 230. 

Michael (St.), 228, n. 

Saxnot, 232. 

Volla, 231. 

Midsummer, 284. 

Schrat, 1 245 

Minne, 244, 271. 

Schratz, J 


Montmartre, 228, n. 

Siegberg, 228, n. 

Moon, 281. 

Sighe, 285, n. a . 

Waldleute, 250. 

Moosfraulein, 251. 
Moosleute, 250. 

Sigtuna, 230. 
Snake of the Langobardi, 

Waltschrat, 245. 
Wanne Thekla, 280. 

Mummelsee, 247, n. 

Snakes, superstitions 

Wasserholde, 244. 
Water, 285. 

connected with, 289. 

Water-sprite, 246-249. 


Souls, after death, state 

Weckingsstein, 243. 

Nasafjall, 243. 

of, 286, 289. 

Wednesday, several 

Need-fire, 285. 

Springs, 257, 285. 

names of, 229, n. 3 . 

Nerthus, 282. 

Staffelstein, 243. 

Werre, 280. 

Nix, 246, 288, 

Stempe, 280. 

White Lady, 279. 

Norns, 238, 239. 

Stepke,! 23ri n 9 

Wilde Leute, 250. 

Nothfeuer, 285. 

Stopke, J l 
Straggele, 280. 

Witches, 241. 
Witch- mountains, 243. 

Sun, 281. 

Wodan, 229, 273, 274. 

Wode, 274. 

Oak felled by Boniface, 


Wodel-beer, 274. 


Woden, 227, n., 276. 

Odenberg, 287. 
Odense, 230. 

Tanais, 1 229. 
Tanaqvisl, J 

Worship (places of), 

Odin, 229. 

Tanhauser, 286. 

Wurth, 240. 

Ostara, 227, n. 

Temples, 259. 

Wyrd, 239, 240. 

Thor, 227, n., 276. 

Thunaer, 230. 



Thursday, several names 

Pharaildis, 273. 

of, 230, n. 8 . 

Zio, 231. 

Phol, 231. 

Trees, 257, 282. 






University of Toronto 








Acme Library Card Pocket